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References to records have been given wherever possible. 
Much of the contents of Chapters IV, V and VI is the result 
of personal observation and enquiry. Sir W. Robinson's 
report of his visit to the South Kanara Islands in 1845 ' s 
throughout referred to as Robinson I, and his report upon 
the Malabar Islands in 1847 as Robinson II. 






General Features — Meteorological — Geology — Botany — 

Zoology ... ... ... ... ... i_i 4 



Early Period — -Transfer to Ali Raja — The Portuguese — Revolt 
of Amindivis — dispute about Sovereignty of Malabar Islands 
— Difficulties of Administration : attachment, 1875 — 1908 — ■ 
Surrender of Sovereignty by Bibi — Condition of Malabar 
Islands, 1847 — Contrasted condition of Amindivi Islands — 
I Disturbances on Minicoy in 1887 — And in 191 2 — Inspec- 
tions — Wrecks ... ... ... 

IS— 34 



The Cannanore System — The British Administration on the 
Amindivis — And on the Malabar Islands—Laws in force — 
Medical aid — -Education — The coir monopoly— Pandaram 
rents — The uninhabited islands — 'Lesser monopolies — -■ 
Minicoy 33—63 


Religion— Language — -Classes — Dress — Marriage— Divorce — 

Birth and death ceremonies — Feasting clubs— Law — Minicoy. 66 — 80 



Boat-building — Fishing — Mas-fishing — Beche-de-mer — Coir — ■ 

Jaggery — Topee making — Agriculture — -Trade ... ... 81 — 87 





Agathi Ameni — Androth r 

Kadamath-Kalpen K 7 Tk™ "~ Bitra ~ 
^aipeni— Kavarathi— Kiltan- m;«;. 

— SuheJi 

Chetlat — 
Itan— Minicoy— Pitti 




tt S' Sta f C6S betvveen th * islands 
Li- Population 

HI. Receipts and charges 

IV - In specting officers"... 

V. Anchorages 

VI- Regulation No. I 0/191* 

The Laccadive Group-Agathi— 







Ir 5 

— K 

iltan— Minicoy. 





THE Laccadive Archipelago forms with the Maldives a General 
long narrow belt extending due north and south from the fe aturbs 
level of the South Kanara district in lat. 14 0 N., to Addu 
atoll in lat. 0° 40 0 S. The Laccadives extend down to lat. 10° 
N., and consist of a series of isolated islands and submerged 
banks, mostly of ■ small size. The Maldives commence in 
lat. 7°I0' N. and form a sequence of large submerged banks and 
islands. Intermediate between the two groups lies Minicoy in 
lat. 8° 20' N., 114 miles distant from Kalpeni and 71 miles from 
Thavandifobe the nearest Maldive. The two groups are situ- 
ated on a common bank which nowhere, so far as is known, 
lies at a greater depth than 1,200 fathoms. Soundings have 
been obtained of 1,195 fathoms in the Nine Degree channel, 
north of Minicoy, and of 1,179 >n the Eight Degree channel 
south of that island. The 1,000-fathom line has been traced 
everywhere between the Laccadives and India and there is 
no trace of any connection by shoals with the mainland. The 
2,000-fathom line runs across from Ceylon to the Maldives, 
turns southwards along their eastern face at a distance of 
not more than 30 or 40 miles, bends north round their southern 
extremity and extends up on the west even closer to them 
than on the east, becoming somewhat more distant where it 
reaches the Laccadives. At Minicoy it is about 100 miles 

Excluding Minicoy, which cannot be said to belong to one 
group more than the other, the Laccadive group consists of 
seventeen banks, Elikalpeni, Androth, Kalpeni and Suheli 
being outliers separated by over 1, 100 fathoms, while the rest 
are included within a common 956-fathom line. Of the seven- 
teen, Valiyapani or Munzal 71 miles by 14 miles, Sesostris 15 
miles by 8 miles, Coradive 20 miles by 5% miles, and Elikal- 
peni, are submerged banks without a definite encircling reef. 
Androth is situated at the south of a bank 11% miles long, 





east and west, by 6 miles broad. Ameni and Pitti are at 
opposite ends of a bank 26 miles long. Both these banks 
still show traces of the typical "Atoll"* shape. Agathi 
bank has two atolls, Agathi itself, united by a bank 
at a depth of J to 10 fathoms with a northern atoll 
containing three islets, Bangaram, Tinnakara and Parli. The 
remainder Bitra, Kiltan, Chetlat, Kavarathi, Kalpeni, Cheriya- 
pani, Byramgore, Peremul, Kadamat and Suheli are perfect 
single ring-reefs. Byramgore and Peremul are submerged. 
Cheriyapani has sand banks on its north and east sides. 
The others have islands along the inner side of the eastern 
arc of the reef, are planted up with coconuts, and with the 
exception of Suheli and Bitra are inhabited. 

The winds experienced are those of the two monsoons, 
influenced by the proximity of the Indian coast. The north- 
east monsoon becomes established about the end of November 
and continues until March. During this period the prevailing 
winds are northerly, with long calms, and but little or no heavy 
weather. Often, however, the wind blows strongly for days 
at a time, especially among the northern islands, from the 
east or north-east. 

The south-west monsoon usually becomes definitely set 
towards the end of May and continues regularly until 

During the months intervening between the two monsoons, 
cyclonic storms or hurricanes are liable to occur. Hurricanes 
are said to visit the islands at intervals of about twelve years. 
As their centres usually lie well to the north they are little 
felt at Minicoy. The northern islands, however, have suffered 
severely. The most disastrous storm on record is that which 
burst upon the islands on 15th April 1847. It reached Kalpeni 
at about 8 p.m. from the east-north-east and seems to have 
moved in a west-north-west direction between the islands 
and the mainland. The line of islands nearest the coast 
suffered severely, while those further out were but little 
affected and the storm does not seem to have been felt at 
Minicoy at all. Its destructive effects were aggravated by its 
having occurred at the season of spring tides, and by its 
having broken upon the eastern unprotected side of the islands. 
The storm reached Androth between 12 p.m. and 2 a.m. on the 
morning of April 16th and burst upon Kiltan about an hour 
after sunrise. Another storm visited Kavarathi on 5th 

♦The term "Atoll" is derived from a Mahl word Atolu signifying an 

administrative division. There are thirteen of these in the Maldives, many of 

them consisting of a single island each. Hence the transferred meaning — vide 
Gardiner, p. 155. 



November 1891 and did considerable damage. It seems to 
have been purely a local disturbance and was scarcely felt 
on the neighbouring islands. It necessitated large remissions 
and reductions in the cowle rents on Kavarathi. 

Currents are extremely variable. During the north-east Currents, 
monsoon, a strong current sets to the northward between the 
islands and the mainland at the rate of 25 to 35 miles per 24 
hours, and in the south-west monsoon a similar southerly 
current prevails. 

At Minicoy there is a rise of 5 feet 9 inches at spring tides Tides, 
and 3 feet 6 inches at neaps. The tides in the more northern 
islands are probably higher. 

The rainfall on the islands decreases from south to north. Rainfall. 
There are three rain guages, at Minicoy, Kalpeni and Ameni. 
On Minicoy the rainfall is about 100 inches, while on Kalpeni 
it is only between 60 and 65 inches in the year, and on Ameni 
it is just below 60. In the Maldives it is said to reach 150 

The greater part of the rain falls during the south-west 
monsoon in the months of June and July. During the rest of 
the year, except in November and December when the north- 
east monsoon brings heavy showers, there is but little rain. 
The highest recorded rainfall at Ameni for 24 hours has been 
10 inches. 

The temperature in the shade varies between 70 0 and 90 0 F. Temperature. 
Agathi is the hottest of the inhabited islands, and the neigh- 
bouring islets, Bangaram, Tinnakara and Parli, strike the 
visitor as unbearable. To avoid the heat at night on Agathi 
the people erect small cadjan " sleeping boxes " on the beach. 

The submerged banks rise almost precipitously from the Geology. 
common bank upon which the group stands. Soundings 
seem to show a sheer drop from about 25 fathoms to 400 or 500 
fathoms or even more. 

Round the typical ring-reefs the drop is less abrupt. The 
ring is formed by a "reef -flat" 50 or even I50 yards wide, 
almost level, covered with small boulders of coral limestone, 
and usually submerged a few feet under water. At 
Kalpeni, Kadamat, Androth, Chetlat and Kiltan, however, 
the reef-flat is well exposed at low tide. Often the 
reef-flat is quite bare on the seaward side and the boulders 
are collected in a regular zone about 30 yards wide, 
on the lagoon side. The reef-fiat ends abruptly on the ' 
lagoon side with a drop of 3 or 4 feet, but the rock has 
been found to extend under the sand of the lagoon bed to the 
reef-flat on the opposite side. On the seaward side, what is 
termed a reef-platform slopes gradually, often in a series of 



terraces, from the reef-flat until a depth of 20 fathoms is 
reached. Here a precipitous drop commences. Soundings 
increase suddenly, within perhaps not more than a ship's 
length, to 160 or 200 fathoms. This precipice lies on an 
average only 400 or 500 yards from the reef-flat and it is 
easy to see how dangerous the islands are to approach and 
what difficult anchorages they afford. There are in fact only 
one or two places on each reef where a ship can safely anchor 
and even at these it is no unusual occurrence for the anchor 
to slip off a terrace in 6 fathoms into perhaps 20 fathoms. 
From a depth of about 200 fathoms the bottom slopes very 
much more gradually until the level of the common bank is 

The slope from the reef flat is always much more abrupt 
on the eastern than on the western side of the atolls and the 
precipitous drop lies very much closer in. In fact in some 
islands there is no marked reef-platform at all on the eastern 
face and the slope commences from the edge of the reef-flat 
itself. This is the case at Chetlat, Kalpeni and Kadamat 
where the IOO-fathom line is not 150 yards from the shore. 
Except at Kadamat, the exposed portion of the reef-flat in 
this position is usually very narrow, but it can always be 
traced along the sea beach, appearing from under the sand 
or boulders that form the beach and sloping gently under the 
water. At Kadamat the reef- flat extends 1 50 yards or so from 
the beach and is completely exposed at low tide. 

At Chetlat, Kiltan, Kavarathi and Agathi, the reef -rock can 
be traced into the lagoon round both ends of the island proper, 
as an outcrop from under the sand, corresponding in width 
with the reef-flat round the western arc of the atoll. The 
outcrop ends in a "cliff" 4 or 5 feet above the level of the 
western reef-flat. The cliff is due to the sand and boulders 
of the island proper, which have protected the rock beneath 
from the eroding action of the sea. In the other islands no 
cliff or outcrop, if one exists, is exposed and the sand of the 
lagoon beach is continuous with the sand of the sea beach on 
the northern and southern faces. Everywhere the rock form- 
ing the reef -flat is a coral conglomerate. Blastings at Kalpeni 
and Minicoy showed this very clearly. 

The lagoon is a shallow saucer-shaped depression. Its 
depth is not usually more than two or three fathoms on the 
Laccadives although on the Maldives an average of 20 or 30 
fathoms is common. The southern end of the lagoon is some- 
times much silted up. At Kalpeni, the southern part of the 
big lagoon is quite dry at low water for almost half a mile from 
the shore, while at Minicoy the depth of water at low tide is 



only a few inches. In the deeper water great bosses and beds 
of coral grow up from the bottom to within a foot or two of 
the surface with a luxuriance unknown on most coral islands, 
where coral growths inside the lagoon are usually very rare. 
Seen through a water-glass these masses of coral appear a 
veritable wonderland of beauty, with fishes of marvellous 
colouring darting in and out of their fairy grottoes. It 
appears to be probable that all the lagoons will in the course 
of time fill up through the combined action of the sea in 
depositing sand and of the shallow-water corals. 

The island proper is usually a narrow bank of sand piled 
up by the action of sea and wind against the inner side of the 
eastern arc of the atoll, two or three or even five miles in 
length, and varying in breadth from half a mile to a few yards. 
On all the islands the sand is increasing steadily, but at 
varying rates, on the lagoon side, and the islands are in con- 
sequence growing. The growth is particularly marked at 
Kiltan where the cutcherry was once on the edge of the 
beach- Several feet under the sand on all the islands except 
Minicoy and Kalpeni lies a horizontal bed of coral limestone a 
few inches or perhaps two feet and more in depth. It appears 
to be continuous with the conglomerate of the reef. There is 
no indication that any similar bed of limestone is now in 
process of formation in any position and it may perhaps be 
that the limestone bed indicates a previous sea bottom at a 
depth beyond the action of the waves. The stone is much 
used for building and to its presence is attributed the supply 
of good water which can be obtained everywhere if a well 
is bored through the limestone bed. Similar limestone (beach 
sandstone) is found on the lagoon beaches of most of the 
islands, but the bed, instead of being horizontal, appears 
to dip towards the lagoon at the same angle as the lagoon 
beach. The beach sandstone is quarried by the people for 
building purposes. It reforms after about two years in some 

On the sea face, the land is fringed on all the islands 
except Agathi, Ameni and Kadamath, by a more or less 
marked ridge of coral debris and coral rock. This ridge 
attains a height of nearly 20 feet at places on Minicoy. At 
the north end of Kalpeni it is formed by huge boulders 
(Negro-heads) of much weathered coral. It is known to have 
been the result of the great storm of 1847 and probably other 
big storms have added to it. 

Two theories have been put forward to account for the 
formation of coral islands, both based upon the now well- 
attested fact that reef-building corals only grow between a 



depth of about 30 fathoms and the surface. One is the well- 
known Darwinian theory, one of the most brilliant examples 
of an explanation for natural phenomena arrived at by pure 
reason, no direct evidence in support of it having yet been 
discovered. Darwin assumed that the corals commenced their 
growth at a suitable level, round some peak or volcanic crater. 
If, then, the land commenced to subside so slowly that the 
corals could maintain their position at the right level for 
growth, the reef would grow upwards, while the crater, if it 
was ever exposed above the surface of the sea, would dis- 
appear and become covered with corais, which, however, would 
grow much less rapidly than the better nourished corals on 
the exterior of the reef, thus forming the central lagoon. The 
outer corals would grow till they reached their limit at the 
surface and would form the circular reqf so typical of coral 

The other theory postulates a submerged bank at a suit- 
able depth, i.e., something less than 30 fathoms, upon which 
the corals can grow. Subsidence of the land is not, as in the 
first theory, assumed, and if the coral bank is to increase 
laterally it can only be by the outgrowth of the reef corals 
upon the accumulated debris from the reef, which the action 
of the sea tends to pile up round the base of the original bank 
and which the coral growths then consolidate. The slopes off 
the Laccadive reefs are everywhere so precipitous that, upon 
this theory, so far as they are concerned, it must only be 
supposed that there has been no lateral widening and that 
the corals have grown almost straight up to the surface. 

Professor Stanley Gardiner, as the Balfour student of 
Cambridge University for 1899-1900, examined minutely the 
geology of the Maldives and Minicoy in those years, and his 
report (in the " Fauna Flora and Geography of the Maldives 
and Laccadives") throws some interesting light upon the 
formation of these reefs. His investigation of the Maldives 
leads him to reject the Darwinian theory as an adequate 
explanation of the manner in which they were formed. As he 
points out, both archipelagoes are so similarly situated and 
so closely connected that both have probably been formed in 
the same way, and thus probably Darwin's theory does not 
apply to the Laccadives either. 

The grounds upon which Professor Gardiner bases his 
opinion may be briefly summarised. With the exception of 
Addu and Suadiva, which are typical atolls like the Laccadive 
atolls, the remainder of the Maldives form a well defined line 
of banks, 325 miles in length without any breaks between 
them of really considerable extent. This line is single at 



each end but doubles at the centre, where it encloses a long 
narrow strip of water between its two series of shoals. 
Soundings show that the banks arise as so many plateaux 
from a common plateau which has a general depth of about 
200 fathoms. The banks reach the surface in every variety 
of form. The smaller ones are perfect atolls. The larger are 
irregularly elliptical rings composed of separate reefs, and 
these reefs in their turn may be either mere reefs or almost 
perfect atolls with lagoons. Inside these irregular rings, 
again, are dotted more or *less numerous reefs or tiny atolls. 
There is no sign that the present irregular rings ever formed 
a continuous ring reef. The fact that the passages between 
their component reefs are as deep or deeper than the interior 
of the bank seems almost conclusive on the point. Each 
component reef appears to be a separate entity which has 
grown up and developed by itself, influenced, of course, by its 
position and by the reefs in its vicinity, but never directly 
connected with them. Moreover the floor of the lagoon is 
almost perfectly level and does not shelve gradually to the 
centre as it would do if Darwin's theory were correct. 

■ Obviously a formation of this kind is not satisfactorily 
explained by the Darwinian theory. The fact that miniature 
atolls are found inside the irregular rings seems to preclude 
the supposition that the rings evidence the subsidence of any 
land at their centres. The flatness of the lagoon bed seems a 
fatal objection to the theory. Professor Gardiner's own view 
is that the reefs and atolls have been formed by the upgrowth 
of corals from a common plateau. The occurrence among the 
Laccadives of the submerged banks with no trace of the 
atoll formation, of such formations as Androth, an atoll upon 
a much larger bank, and Ameni and Pitti, two atolls at each 
end of a long bank add very great support to his view. 

If this conclusion is correct, the islands are formations of 
coral built up from underlying banks or plateaux which the 
reef-building corals found at a depth favourable to their 
existence. How the banks themselves came to be formed 
must remain matter for conjecture. Perhaps they represent 
portions of that old continent which is supposed to have 
existed in the Jurassic and Cretaceous ages between India 
and Southern and Central Africa and which, it is supposed, 
was broken up by the mighty changes in early tertiary times 
to which also the upheaval of the Himalayas was due. 

But, as Professor Gardiner has pointed out, the present 
conformation of the islands is due to something more than the 
mere upgrowth of corals. The conglomerate found along the 
eastern sea-face of all the islands is positive evidence of 



upheaval or at least of alteration in sea level. It is obvious 
that it could never have formed in its present position, 
exposed to the direct action of the sea. Its erosion by the sea 
is in fact at the present moment going steadily on. Professor 
Gardiner suggests an upheaval of at least 24 feet. In calcu- 
lating this, he assumes that the ridge of coral boulders above 
the conglomerate represents the results of aerial denudation 
upon the conglomerate exposed above the sea by the upheaval. 
It is, however, permissible to point out that this ridge is 
known to have been thrown up on some of the Laccadives by 
the great storm of 1847. The ridges on these islands differ in 
no way from those on the other islands, and the observer 
would certainly never suspect from their appearance that 
these ridges were anything but what are commonly known as 
storm beaches. Professor Gardiner also assumes that the 
conglomerate commences from the level of the reef-fiat, which 
he takes W> be the upper face of the reef. It is unfortunate that 
he made no borings into the reef-flat, for recent blastings at 
Kalpeni and Minicoy show that the surface of the reef-flat there 
is also conglomerate. Extensive borings on coral islands in 
the Pacific have shown a coral conglomerate down to a depth 
of over 1,000 feet and the fact appears to be that the kind of 
rock produced by the reef-building corals is a coral conglo- 
merate, Moreover, the level surface of the reef-flat has 
probably been caused by the erosive action of the sea which 
always tends to produce a level bottom. It probably there- 
fore marks the lowest limit of erosion not the highest limit of 
the upward growth of the reef building corals. It follows 
that there is no possibility of calculating, even approximately, 
the amount of the upheaval though the conjecture that the 
limestone bed represents the previous sea bottom would set 
a maximum upwards for it. 

The difference in level between the top of the conglomerate 
on the eastern arc and the level of the reef-fiat on the 
western arc of the atolls would be due to the greater 
violence of the seas during the monsoon upon the western 
arc, and to the protective influence of the sand and boulders 
piled up against and upon the eastern arc. But difficulties 
present themselves as to the original position of the living 
reef and as to the manner of the formation of the conglomerate 
and of the lagoon, which are at present impossible of com- 
plete solution. Recent investigation in America seems to 
show that the atoll form is due to the action of the prevailing 
wind and currents upon an originally more or less straight 
bank, the wind and currents curving the growing ends round 
till they meet in a circle. The lagoon, it is thought, is due to 



the growth of the corals at the centre having been greatly / 
retarded by deposits of sand and silt from the sea. 

The only definite conclusion that has been arrived at, then, 
is that the islands are not as one might think, atolls in process 
of formation, but the remains of originally more or less perfect 
atolls, exposed to marine and aerial denudation either by 
upheaval or by an alteration in sea level. Actual upheaval 
is perhaps more probable than an alteration in the sea level 
and perhaps occurred about the same time that the Malabar 
Coast below the Ghats was raised above the sea. After the 
reefs were cut down to their present level, the "island " of 
sand has been piled up inside the lagoon by the wind and 
waves. The reefs must not, however, be regarded as "dead." 
A second period of growth is now taking place upon the 
reef platforms through the activity of the living corals which 
are slowly building up a fresh coral conglomerate in these 
positions. Some growth is also taking place in the lagoons. 

The only other matter of any geological interest connected 
with the islands is the occurrence of small pieces of pumice 
which are to be found marking the lines of previous flood 
levels along the lagoon beaches of most of the islands. The 
source of the pumice was for long a mystery and it was 
attributed to the eruptions of some submarine volcano. 
Professor Gardiner, however, reported from enquiries among 
the people that pumice was unknown on the Maldives until 
about 1883, and suggested that it was the result of the eruption 
of Krakatoa in that year. This conjecture is borne out by the 
fact that on the Laccadives, in the years just subsequent to 
1883, large beds of pumice were reported, which have now 
entirely disappeared. Only scattered pieces, much water- 
worn, are now found. 

A full list of plants found on the islands is given at pages B< 
1053— IO55 of Professor Gardiner's " Fauna and Geography of 
the Maldives." Among trees the coconut is the commonest, 
the islands being covered with plantations. There are a few 
bread fruit trees, banyans, and tamarinds, on all the islands. 
The puvarasii (Thespesia populnea), the punna (Calophyllum 
inophyllum), the wild alnjond (Terminalia catappa) and the 
horse radish tree (Moringa pterygosperma) are fairly 
common. A species of tree cotton (paruthi mar a) is found on 
Kalpeni and Androth and some true cotton grows wild on 
Bangaram ; the cotton obtained from both is used for making 
wicks for the lamps in the mosques. The Morinda citrifolia 
the root of which was once much used for dyeing, is found on 
Kalpeni and Androth. Limes were formerly cultivated very 



largely in Ameni and Kavarathi and the export of pickled 
limes from these islands was considerable, but the trees have 
now nearly all died out owing to some pest. Fringing the 
beach in the uninhabited portions of every island are dense 
thickets of chonam, a small fragrant shrub from which a sort 
of tea is made, chcruthalam (Pemphis acidula) a bushy shrub 
which is cut for firewood and exported, kanni (Scaevola 
Kcenigii) which also grows inland in great clumps rather like 
a rhododendron, and the wild heliotrope (Tournefolia argen- 
tea). The key am is a small tree found on the South Kanara 
Islands and Kavarathi from the wood of which the tholepin of 
the oar is made. The patti (Maceronga Roxburghii) is used 
for making rafts. The screw pine (Pandanus odoratissimus) 
grows everywhere and with a luxuriance unknown on the 
mainland: on the uninhabited islands the screw pine growth 
is from 20 to 30 feet high. Ferns are found in great quantities 
in the tottam at Androth, and mosses and lichens at Minicoy 
during the monsoon. The creeping purple convolvulus (Ipo- 
mcea biloba) is common everywhere. The red ixora (I. coc- 
cinea) is not uncommon, and in the tottam at Androth a white 
balsam occurs. On Minicoy and on the uninhabited islands 
the it tola (Dioscorea oppositifolia) is found. Its white tubers 
grow to a large size and are made into a kind of tapioca. 

In the tottams on several of the islands a little coarse 
paddy, ragi, varagu, cholam, beans and sweet potatoes are 
grown, while round their houses the people cultivate patches 
of cliembu, a kind of yam. 

It is impossible here to give the very technical information 
that is required for the identification of the fishes, crabs and 
lower organisms. Full particulars will be found in Professor 
Gardiner's book, where his collections have been catalogued 
and described minutely. 

Cowries of all kinds from the small money cowry to the 
large handsome spotted varieties, giant clams (Tridacna) and 
huge specimens of the giant pinna are common on all the 
reefs. Holothurians or sea slugs of three varieties are found 
in the lagoons. An edible octopus (Appalu) is found on the 
reefs, which is caught at night witk the aid of flares. 

Hermit crabs (Coenobita) abound. Almost every suitable 
dead shell on the beach will be found occupied by one, and as 
the visitor strolls along the beach he will be surprised at first 
to find these seemingly dead shells coming to life and rolling 
out of his way. A big dark red variety is found inland which 
has sometimes been known to occupy a small coconut shell in 
the absence of any shell of suitable size. Ocypod crabs, 



greyish in colour, with the eyes placed at the end of short 
stalks, are also very common. They are caught for 
food. On the uninhabited islands they grow to a compara- 
tively large size and the sand excavated from their burrows 
gives the beach an extraordinary appearance, rather as if 
countless pails of sand had been emptied at irregular intervals 
all over the beach. Grapsoid crabs, barred green and brown, 
will be found crawling over every rock. 

A remarkable feature of the Laccadive marine fauna is its 
similarity to the marine fauna of the Atlantic in the region of 
the West Indies. Two of the most remarkable Laccadive 
Crustaceans the large Isopod (Bathynomus giganteus) the 
blind spiny lobster (Phoberus caecus) and the spiny hermit 
crab (Lithodes Agassizii) are found in the Carribean Sea and 
one of the commonest Laccadive sea urchins (Palasopneustes 
Hemingi) is very doubtfully distinct from P. cristatus found 
off the West Indies. There are also many corals and fish 
common to both regions. 

Fish are abundant. Many of the small kinds found in the 
lagoons are wonderfully coloured. Among common kinds are 
Surgeon fish (Naseus) with two or four knife-edged spines 
near the tail with which they can inflict a dangerous and 
sometimes even a fatal wound : gar fish, long narrow fish 
which have the upper jaw prolonged into a long sharp beak ; 
spiny sun-fish which as a protection can blow themselves out 
to a relatively enormous size ; the extraordinary box fish whose 
skin has become so ossified that it can only move its fins, tail, 
and eyes; and the palli which has four enormous teeth capa- 
ble of biting a finger clean off. Sharks and sword-fish are 
frequently caught, and shark fins when dried are exported to 
Malabar and Colombo. The bonito appears to be found in the 
deep sea off all the islands but is only fished for on Minicoy. 
Flying fish are common everywhere. Skates, sometimes of 
enormous size, measuring 12 feet or more from fin to fin, are 
common in the lagoons. They are caught, generally by har- 
pooning, in the months of July and August ; they are found in 
the greatest numbers in the waters off Andrcth andKalpeni. In 
a good season three or four hundred of these huge fish are 
secured. The fish is cut into slices and cured by being dried 
in the sun or smoked overa fire. The dried slices roasted and 
pounded up with coconut are regarded as a great delicacy. 

Two kinds of turtle are found, the Green Turtle and the 
Hawksbill. The Green Turtle is killed for its fat which yields 
a very valuable oil. It is caught at night with nets when it 
comes into the shoal water to feed. When the turtles are 



located, a net is run hastily out between them and the deep 
water and they are chased into it and caught. Turtles are 
also easily caught in the day time from a boat. • When chased 
by a boat, although at first they can swim away for short 
distances at a great speed, they very soon tire and are easily 
caught by the boatmen, who jump overboard on top of them. 
The female turtle comes up at night to the sand above high- 
water mark and there lays her eggs, from 100 to 200 in 
number, in a neat little pile, at one spot in a big excavation 
which she digs in the sand, 15 or 20 feet long and 3 to 5 feet 
deep. The eggs have a white parchment-like shell and are 
the size and shape of a ping-pong ball. The young turtles all 
hatch out at much the same time and immediately make for 
the sea. Alcock ("A Naturalist in Indian Seas," page 85) 
gives an interesting account of a hatch which he witnessed: 
" There was a tremendous commotion in the dry sand and out 
of it there emerged a swarm of little objects looking like 
beetles, which all with one consent made for the sea. Even 
when we caught them and started them off in the opposite 
direction some unerring instinct caused them at once to turn 
round towards the sea again." 

The Hawksbill Turtle which is less common and does not 
grow to such a size as the Green Turtle, produces the tortoise 
shell of commerce. 

(i) Permanent residents — ■ 
Puffinus persicus. 

Buttorides Javanica. The little Green Heron. 

Ardea cinerea. The Common Heron. These birds breed 

at Minicoy on Viringilli. 
Nettium crecca. The Common Teal. 
Gallinula pheenicula. The white breasted water hen. 
Dromas ardeola. The Crab Plover. 
Sterna fuliginosa. The Sooty Tern. 
Sterna melanauchen. The Black Naped Tern. 
Sterna bernsteini. 

Eudynamis sonorata. The Koel. Breeds on Kavarathi 
where there is a large colony of these birds. 

Corvus splendens. The Crow. Found only on Ameni, 
Androth and Kalpeni. It is said that a saint prohi- 
bited them from ever coming to any of the other 
islands because one once defiled his head. Five or 
six have now (1922) appeared on Minicoy. 

(ii) Regular visitors — • 

Charadrius fulvus. The Golden Plover. 
Totanus hypoleucus. The Common Sandpiper. 


Numenius phasops. The Whimbrel 
Falco tinnunculus. The Kestrel 
Circus macrurus. The Pole Harrier 
Circus .cineraceus. Montagu's Harrier. 
Hirundo urbica. The Martin 

of thenar is regu.arly visited ^^1^ ^ 

breeding seafon. He writ^ • " Fr^heT" ^ the 

barren sand bank and noting ri™ but as P *, ^ ^ 3 
drew near, the boat suddenly becant 4vH " ^ 
crowd of shrieking sea birds O hn P Z" 3 dense ' 

foot of the ground above high-wa^r ™A L^ "^ ^ 
with young terns of two species , n n r aIly car P ef ed 

fledged, many dead and rotting "7 ^ a " d n6arly ful1 
Picked skeletons with only th ^ feTtT t0 C,ean 

the wing-bones. There were I r ^ ^ stickin g to 
materials out of which n^ts C0U ld h K ° r ° f a ^ 

the parent birds must have lak an iTt ^ T^' S ° that 
the bare sand. We soon d s cterecl tt tn " ^ ^ 
the wholesale destruction of young hi 5f f ^ CaUS6 ° f 
swarms of large hermit crabs Coenobitaf for" " °< 
we found recently killed bird TaH S h ^'V^ again 
speckled plumage, being torn to pieces h * <° ^ 

these ghastly crustaceans." y 3 writh »UJ pack of 

Bitra, also, when Sir W r^k- 
the breeding 'ground o !f ^ofmo^" bf^ " ^ ^ WaS 
none have been known to breed there Tn bl ' rds ' but P ' ^ 

Except Whales, and por PO e here T" timeS " 

can be properly called indTgeno r^nd e T T that 
animals, only two species a«fo un on th et^ * 
common Musk Shrew of India ?CWn d§ at a11 ' the 

ubiquitous rat. The latter h a h P I * munna ' and the 
arboreal in habit and does incakSf H " COnSiderab]e -tent 
and eating the green nuts of h coc ^f^f ^ 
two different varieties, a large reddish l't l ° be 

found only on Androth, Agath £ ^ r3ttUS rufinus ) 
a smaller dark brown rat (Mumt ^ and 
the other islands. Both variet es are f n leMndnnus ) found on 
whole of India. It is strange thZ H T™ 0 " throu g h ^t the 
separate islands g hdt they shou]d have colonised 


close to the islands and are at once pursued by the islanders 
who seek to drive them into shallow water and so to capture 

Note. — Bibliography for Chap. I : — 

Prof. Stanley Gardiner: fauna, Flora, and Geography of the Maldives and 

Major Alcock, I. M.S. : A naturalist in Indian Seas. 
The District Manual. 




Universal local tradition points to the period of anarchy and First 
confusion on the coast which followed the era of Cheraman settlement - 
Perumal as the time when the islands were first occupied. 
One tradition asserts that the earliest settlers were the ship- 
wrecked members of an expedition that set out from Malabar 
in quest of the Perumal, who was believed to have gone to 
Mecca. Whether there is any foundation in fact for this or 
not, there must obviously have been also a very considerable Robinson II, 
voluntary immigration, especially of the lower classes, from v ' 9 * 
the coast. The islands supposed to have been peopled first 
are Ameni, Kalpeni, Androth, Kavarathi and Agathi. The 
upper classes of the first four of these islands still claim to 
trace their descent from Nayar or even Nambudiri familieson 
the mainland, and these islands are known in consequence as 
" tarawad " islands in distinction to the other, or Melacheri, 
islands. That the claim is not unfounded is shown by many 
of the house-names (e.g., Valiya illam, Kaka illam). The 
lower castes, chiefly Tiyyars and Mukkuvars, from whom the 
Melacheri class is descended, settled on the larger islands as 
servants of the better classes, and also populated exclusively 
Agathi and the smaller islands. Ki'tan, Chetlat and Kadamat 
appear to have been occupied only recently, for Lieut. Bentley 
in 1795 found only about TOO people on each of the two former 
islands, while Kadamat was then still uninhabited and un- 
planted. These three islands were probably occupied by 
settlers from Ameni. The people of Ameni enjoyed at one 
time a priority over them, traces of which may be seen in the 
custom only recently abolished, of deciding cases on the other 
three islands with the help of Ameni muktessors, and in the 
authority still possessed by the Ameni Khazi over the Naib 
Khazis of the other islands. 

In 1845 Sir W. Robinson found Kadamat inhabited, but Robinson I, 
the people were entirely dependent on the people of Ameni. p- 20- 
They had not even boats of their own and much of the land 
had been appropriated by the Ameni inlanders who still hold 
it. There is now a strong movement on Kadamat to repudiate 
the superiority of Ameni altogether and the Ameni Khazi's 
authority in particular. It gave rise in 1908 and 1909 to almost 
the only criminal cases that have ever occurred on the island. 


of Muliam- 

Robinson 1 1, 
p. lo. 

The Portu- 

Robinson II, 
p. 67. 

Originally Hindus, the islanders, under the influence of 
Arab traders, were converted to Muhammadanism at some 
time probably in the fourteenth century and thus furnish 
another example of the way in which the Muhammadan 
religion followed trade and was accepted almost universally 
by the islands along the Asiatic coasts. 

Tradition on the Laccadives ascribes the conversion to an 
Arab Saint named Ubaid-ulla who is commonly known on all 
the islands by the title of Munbe' Muliyaka. a Moplah mis- 
pronunciation of the words Munbe Mussaliyar Kakii, the first 
Mussaliyar. It is said that Ubaid-ulla came to Ameni in 
A.H. 41, but being unable to convert the inhabitants departed to 
Androth where he was more successful and not only converted 
the island but established the family which till 1920 held the 
Khaziship of Androth, an office held in the greatest veneration 
throughout the islands. The last Khazi in that family pro- 
fessed to be twenty-fourth in direct descent from the Saint. 

The Mussaliyar is said next to have converted Kavarathi 
and Agathi and then to have returned once more to Ameni in 
A.H. 44. This time he was more successful and converted the 
whole island. Passing to Kalpeni, he converted that island 
also. Finally he returned to Androth where he remained until 
his death. His tomb is in the jamath mosque at Androth and 
the mosque is in conseqence held in the greatest veneration. 
It is said that he did not visit Kiltan, Chetlat or Kadamat but 
that the people of these islands, hearing of the conversion of 
Ameni, came to that island and were converted by the Saint's 
agent there. To this circumstance popular tradition ascribes 
the present subordination of the smaller islands to the Khazi of 
Ameni in religious affairs. Whatever truth there may be in 
this account of the saint's life, the dates assigned are 
obviously impossible: the conversion of the islands can 
hardly safely be placed earlier than the fourteenth century. 

The islands appear to have remained independent of the 
chiefs and rulers on the mainland until after the arrival of 
the Portuguese on the West Coast. The Portuguese made a 
settlement upon Ameni and built a fort, the site of which is 
still pointed out, but their object in doing so is difficult to 
discern. They seem to have treated the inhabitants with 
cruelty and harshness. The islanders were driven to seek the 
assistance of the Raja of Chirakkal. Tradition relates that 
the Raja sent over Kadantavanjiraka (lit. "Ear-bored") 
whose identity is lost under his nick name. A plan to 
poison the Portuguese was formed and the Portuguese were 
in this way exterminated. This event is still commemorated 
in the name (Pambupalli) of one of the mosques on Ameni, 



where, it is said, the poison was prepared. The Portuguese 
took a bloody revenge. More than 400 of the islanders, 
including the Khazi of the day, Abu Bakr, were massacred. 
The date of this occurrence (A.H. 966. A.D. 1549-50) is 
fortunately preserved in an old Moplah song in honour of 
Abu Bakr, who is now regarded as a martyr. Tradition 
relates two subsequent massacres by the Portuguese of the 
people of Chetlat. 

In consequence of the Chirakkal Raja's interference in Chirakkal 
this affair he was eventually enabled to establish his rule - 
authority over all the islands. He held them for several 
years and at some unknown date transferred them in jaghir, Grant in 
with the title of Raja, upon the AH Raja, the head of the -^jf' 0 

Ah Kaja. 

Moplah community in Cannanore. The stipulated peshkash 

was 6,000 fanams a year. This was paid until about the middle 

of the eighteenth century, when the Cannanore family took Robinson ll, 

advantage of the gradual dismemberment of the Chirakkal P- 

territories to assert its own independence. From this time 

forward the Cannanore and Chirakkal Rajas became inveterate 

foes and it was on the invitation of the former that Hyder 

Ali invaded North Malabar in 1765-66 and completed the ruin 

of the Chirakkal family. 

The abuses and exactions under Cannanore rule, par- Kevoit of 
ticularly in connexion with the coir monopoly introduced ^™^ IV1 
between 1760-65, drove the northern islands Ameni, Chetlat 1784. 
and Kiltan (Kadaniat being uninhabited) to revolt. In 1783 
four Ameni boats sailing to Cannanore with island produce 
found the place blockaded by the English. One boat fell Robinson 11, 
into the hands of the English, another returned to the island, 68, 
but the remaining two, belonging to the still influential Kulap 
and Porakat families sailed on to Mangalore, where, under 
the impression that the Cannanore family was doomed, they 
disposed of their coir to Tippu, who was himself at the time 
besieging Mangalore. 

On the restoration of peace by the treaty of Mangalore 
(nth March 1784), the Bibi proceeded to punish with the 
utmost rigour the offence against her monopoly laws which 
these two boats had committed. She sent over to Ameni 
Abdul Khadir Kariyakar with a body of servants. On 
landing he confiscated and seized the property and persons, 
and emptied the houses, of the principal inhabitants, a form 
of punishment known on the islands as Kavarcba. This A Kararcha. 
proved more than the people could stand. The whole popu- 
lation rose, overpowered the guards, released the prisoners 
and placed Abdul Khadir in chains. The principal inhabit- 
ants then sailed to Mangalore taking Abdul Khadir with, 






cede! to 




ceded to 

Robinson II, 
P- 13- 

Robinson II, 
pp. 86-100. 

Bibi retains 
possession of 

Dispute as 
to peshkash. 

them in chains, and offered their allegiance to Tippu. He, 
however, was by this time once more on friendly terms with 
the Bibi, and tried to persuade them to return to their allegiance 
to her. All his endeavours proving unsuccessful, he, at 
length, in 1787, accepted the offer of the islanders and granted 
in compensation to the Cannanore family a jaghir from the 
Chirakkal territories. 

In 1791 the southern islands passed, by the conquest of 
Cannanore, to the East India 'Company along with other 
possessions of the Bibi ; and were further ceded, with Tippu's 
entire possessions in Malabar, by the peace of Seringapatam 
in 1792. But the northern islands continued in Tippu's 
possession until the fall of Seringapatam in 1799 when, with 
Kanara, they passed to the Honourable Company. The 
accident of the revolt in 1784 thus accounts for the arbitrary 
division which now places the Amindivis, as they are called, 
under South Kanara and the southern islands under Malabar 
for administrative purposes. 

Upon the fall of Cannanore in 1791, the Chirakkal Raja 
seized the opportunity to resume the lands granted by Tippu 
to the Bibi as compensation for the loss of the Amindivis. 
In 1792 the Bibi, refusing to admit defeat, claimed to be 
treated like other Rajas of Malabar, but it was pointed 
out to her that rights of sovereignty had been acquired by 
the Company over her possessions by conquest, not as in 
other cases by alliance. It was determined, however, "as 
a matter of policy and conciliatory of the Mappillas in 
general " to permit her to retain her possessions, provided she 
paid a tribute to the Honourable Company. Thereupon 
commenced a lengthy dispute between the Bibi and the 
Bombay Government, under which Malabar then was, as to 
the amount of tribute to be levied. The Bibi asserted that 
her total income from the southern islands was only 
Rs. 20,000, while Lieut. Bentley, who was specially deputed in 
1795 to visit the islands and report as to their value, estimated 
the Bibi's probable revenue at Rs. 1,17,699. The question 
dragged on for years in a lengthy correspondence which is 
given in full at pages 84-133 of Sir W. Robinson's report of 
1848. The Bibi complicated it still further by demanding, in 
1793, a remission in lieu of the lands resumed by the Chirak- 
kal Raja. Her own statement of profits had been accepted 
provisionally in 1793, and she entered into a muchilika to 
pay the half of it (Rs. I0,000\ together with half of such 
additional profits as might subsequently be discovered, and 
also to agree to the sequestration of the islands whenever 
such a course should seem advisable. In 1795, in consequence 



of a strong report from Lieut. Bentley upon the miserable 
condition of the islanders under the Bibi's exactions, the 
Governor-General ordered (27th Jul)' 1795) t nat tne coir 
monopoly must be abolished and some plan for the better 
management of the islands drawn up, in consultation with the 
Bibi. The Bibi, however, refused to resign any portion of 
her sovereignty, or to allow any direct interference with the 
internal administration of the islands, and on her side raised 
again the question of her assessment, which had been 
increased by Rs. 2,000, upon her possessions on the mainland. 
A compromise was arrived at through the good offices of 
Mr. Peile, the Principal Collector. An agreement was signed 
on 30th October 1796, which fixed the assessment at 
Rs. 10,000 on the Laccadives and also settled some minor 
matters that had been in dispute. This agreement reiterated 
the stipulation in the muchilika which reserved to Govern- 
ment the right to sequestrate the islands at any time. No 
arrangements had been made, however, to give effect to the 
Governor-General's wishes that the coir monopoly should 
be abolished. The Governor of Bombay in reviewing the 
agreement pointed this out and desired that Mr. Peile 
should be directed to open fresh negotiations for this 
purpose. Mr. Peile's endeavours were entirely unsuccessful. 
On 15th September 1797, he was forced to report that not 
only had every argument proved fruitless but that the Bibi 
now even repudiated the sequestration clauses in the agree- 
ments of 1793 and 1796. She was prepared, however, to 
allow the Company to appoint some person to administer 
justice on the islands and she was also prepared to 
allow some officer to reside on the islands for a year 
and ascertain their real value. The Bombay Government 
accepted these two proposals as a temporary measure, as they 
were averse to taking formal possession of the islands during 
the war with France, fearing the depredations of French men- 
of-war. The Commissioners replied (13th February 1798) that 
they would nominate two persons to proceed to the islands 
" after the rains," but no further record of the transactions is 
preserved in the Collector's office. 

The Bibi's claim to remission on account of the lands Bibi claims 

recovered by the Chirakkal Raja which had been originally remission for 

granted to her by Tippu in compensation for the Amindivis, [and^y'' 0 " ° f 

was at first summarily rejected. She continued, however, to Chirakkal 

revive it at every opportunity. In 1804 she even claimed the Ra J a - 

restoration of the Amindivis themselves, and although the Robinson II 

Bombay Government reported to the Board of Directors that P- l22 - 
" she had no just claim to be placed in any other situation by 



waives its 
claim to the 

Robinson II, 
p. 180. 


report, iS6g. 

the conquest of Mysore than that in which she would have 
stood if such an event had not taken place," the Honourable 
Court of Directors (6th December 1805) took a different view, 
and held that " although from the aversion of the inhabitants 
to the Government of the Bibi it may not be advisable to restore 
those islands to her, some consideration in money should be 
allowed her on account of them as it was no doubt the protec- 
tion of the British which enabled the Raja of Chirakkal to 
resume or keep without a struggle the grants made to the Bibi 
by Tippu in compensation for the loss of the Amindivis." 
The amount of compensation, reckoned at half the net revenue 
from the islands was finally (6th April 1807) fixed by the 
Principal Collector at 1,500 Star Pagodas (Rs. 5,250). The Bibi 
appears to have rejected this as inadequate. Intermediate 
correspondence on the matter is missing. The next record 
extant is the final report from the Board of Revenue to the 
Chief Secretary, dated 3rd October 1822, upon which the Gov- 
ernment ordered an annual abatement of Rs. 5,250 from the 
assessment due by the Cannanore family. This sum con- 
tinued to be deducted until 1908 when it merged in the 
malikhana granted under the a greement then made with the 
Cannanore Raja. 

The attitude taken up by the Bibi in 1795 upon the question 
of sovereignty was strongly maintained ever afterwards. The 
sequestration clause in the muchilika of 1 793 and in the agree- 
ment of 1796 was never enforced, and when the question was 
raised once again in 1847, Government decided " not to take 
advantage of it to put an end to a possession for so many years 
tacitly acquiesced in." The policy of Government with 
reference to the islands in subsequent years was seriously 
restricted by this magnanimous decision. It was at once 
found impossible to obtain the introduction of the much 
needed reforms, suggested by Sir W. Robinson as a result 
of his visit to the islands in 1847, and, although the islands 
were attached for ten years (1854 — 1864) for arrears of 
peshkash, the only reform effected was the abolition of some 
of the minor monopolies. Sultan Ali Raja, the head of the 
Cannanore family when the islands were next visited by a 
British officer (Mr. Logan) in 1869, had lost all control over the 
islands of Agathi, Androth and Kavarathi and his authority 
was recognised in Kalpeni only to a very limited extent. The 
object of Mr. Logan's visit was to ascertain how the Raja's 
authority could be strengthened and his administration 
improved, yet so jealous was the Raja of all interference, 
that he put every possible obstruction in Mr. Logan's way to 
prevent his obtaining information. Mr. Logan traced the 
trouble to the monopoly system and the abuses it gave rise 



to, and suggested the abolition of all monopolies. Government G.O. 405, 
approved, but the Raja refused to accept the proposal and D °e C .' 1871. 
instead claimed a salute of guns and an hereditary title. 

While the matter was still being discussed, the state of Anarchy on 
anarchy on the islands continued to increase. No monopoly ^^j" 
articles were shipped to Cannanore ; Government refused the 
Raja's request that they would assist him to enforce the 
monopoly by arms; the Raja derived practically no income 
from the islands ; and on 3rd April 1875 it became necessary Attachment, 
to attach them again for arrears. This attachment remained J? o 5 ^il° 8 ' 
in force until 1908 when the Bibi surrendered her phantcm Pol., 2nd 
sovereignty. Its object was not merely to clear off the arrears J" ly l8?7- 
of peshkash, but also, and mainly, to afford an opportunity 
for introducing the much needed reforms in the administra- 
tive and fiscal systems. The Raja was plainly told that the 
islands would not be handed back to him until their adminis- 
tration had been placed upon a sound basis, and, more 
particularly, until some other system had been substituted for 
that of the monopolies. 

The position was not without difficulty. The introduction Ulffi . c " u y of 

• r A aumimstra- 

of reforms was hindered by the fact that Government was only tion. 

administering the islands in trust for the Raja. Successive 

Collectors, impressed with the difficulties that thus arose, 

recommended the absolute confiscation of the islands, pointing 

out that the people had been from the first entirely opposed 

to any rendition to the Raja and were prepared to resist to the 

utmost any attempt on his part to re-establish his authority. 

It was shown that there was little hope that the arrears of 

peshkash would ever be cleared and still less that the Raja 

would be able to carry on any system of administration 

that might be introduced ; while a recurrence of the previous 

abuses would only mean another attachment of the islands in 

the not distant future. This view was accepted, and in 1889 

the Government of Madras recommended the assumption of 

the sovereignty over the islands under the treaties of 1793 and 

1796. The Government of India, however, maintained their p 0 !.,'i S zth 

previous attitude and found it impossible to accept the Madras Se P- l8 9 2 - 

Government's proposal. In 1895 the question attracted the 

attention of the Government at Home and Sir H. Fowler, the 

then Secretary of State for India, ordered the immediate 

rendition of the sovereignty to the Raja if he cleared the 


This — one may venture to think fortunately — was found to 
be beyond the Raja's powers and became with every year more 
and more impossible, for the arrears were gradually accumu- 
lating, and by 1908, with interest, had reached the sum of 
Rs. 2,17,162. 



tions for 
surrender' of 

S overeignty 

'.Ends a 

In 1900 negotiations were opened with the Raja to induce him 
to surrender the claim to a sovereignty, which, it was pointed 
out, he could now never hope to exercise, but lie absolutely 
refused the terms offered. The same terms, modified, so far as 
possible, to meet his wishes, were offered to him again in 1905 
with the intimation that if he did not choose to accept them, 
Government would assume the sovereignty upon their own 
terms, which indeed were sufficiently liberal,, foii they* guaran- 
teed that although, while continuing to administer the islands, 
Government would cease to credit the profits to the Raja and 
to grant him the Amindivi compensation, they would remit all 
arrears of peshkash, he on his part paying a peshkash of 
Rs. 3,617 on his Karar lands on the mainland, about which, on 
the introduction of the Malabar Settlement, there had also 
been disputes. 

The Raja, Muhammad Ali, preferred to accept the terms 
proposed by Government, which were: that all arrears of 
peshkash should be remitted ; that the payment of the 
Amindivi compensation should cease ; that he should receive a 
malifchana of Rs. 23,000 to be paid to the Raja and his 
successors, one-half as a personal grant to the head of the 
family, and the other half for the use and benefit of the 
family; that he should hold free of all peshkash or assess- 
ment the disputed Karar lands on the mainland ; and that he 
should receive the hereditary title of Sultan. 

Unfortunately before a formal agreement could be drawn 
up Muhammad Ali died in 1907 and the whole question had to 
be reopened in 1908 with his successor, ImpicVn Bvbv, who was 
at first inclined to repudiate Muhammad Ali's virtual accept- 
ance, but finally agreed to the terms offered by Government. 
The agreement was signed on the 15th November 1908 at 
Cannanore by the Bibi and by Mr. Francis, Collector of 
Malabar, on behalf of the Governor-General. It was ratified 
by the Governor-General on 5th February 1909 and the 
necessary proclamations were published in the Gazette of India 
of 6th February 1909. It should be noted that under this 
agreement the islands form part of His Majesty's Indian 
dominions as from 1st July 1905. 

This liberal agreement, the result of a desire on the part 
of Government to put once more " upon its feet " the old 
Mappilla House of Cannanore, put an end to a curious anomaly 
arising out of a decision of the High Court (I.L.R., Madras 
XIII, 353). In T889, in consequence of friction at Androth 
between the Kunnangalath family represented by K. Cheriya 
Koya, subsequently Amin of Androth, and the Chamayath 
family, one of whose members Saiyid Ahamed Koya was then 
Amin, serious breaches of the peace occurred upon the island. 



In December 1889, Mr. Twigg, then Sub-Collector of Malabar, 
was sent with a body of Police in H.M.S. Criffon to hold an 
inquiry. As a result, he convicted Cheriya Koya and others of 
the Kunnangalath faction of the offences of rioting, causing 
hurt and committing affray, and also bound them over to keep 
the peace. Mr. Twigg had acted in his executive capacity as 
Sub-Collector but had followed the provisions of the Penal 
and Criminal Procedure Codes. His decisions were appealed 
against to the High Court. It does not seem to have been 
brought to the notice of the High Court that the sovereignty of 
the islands had never been assumed by the British Government 
and the learned judges merely stated, in a short preliminary 
sketch of the way in which the Honourable Company obtain- 
ed possession, that by the peace of Seringapatam in 1792 the 
islands, " became an integral portion of the territories which 
vested in Her Majesty by the Statute 21 and 22 Vic, Cap. 
106 " although they noticed that "a large share of adminis- 
trative independence in their internal affairs was, till the year 
1875, left in the hands of the Bibi." The entry "■ Laccadive 
islands, including Minicoy " in the first schedule to the 
Scheduled Districts Act seemed to confirm their view and 
they held that as the islands had not been exempted under 
that Act from the operations of the Indian Penal Code and 
Criminal Procedure Code, those Codes must be in force. It 
was held, therefore, that Mi'. Twigg had acted without 
authority and that his proceedings were void cib initio. 

The difference in status between the Malabar Laccadives 
and the Amindivis seems to have escaped the notice even of 
Government at the time when the Scheduled Districts Act was 
drawn up, for the entry in the first schedule of that Act 
should, of course, have referred only to the South Kanara 
islands. The position legally, however, on the islands became 
in consequence of this decision of the High Court somewhat 
curious. In the eye of the law the Malabar islands formed a 
part of British India, while actually they did not, and although 
every judicial proceeding held on the islands was in danger 
of being quashed by the High Court, there was no course open 
to Government but to issue confidential orders to ignore the 
High Court ruling and to administer justice as before. The 
islands by Notification No. 227 of the Home Department, 
Government of India, dated 1st February 1912, were formally 
incorporated in the Madras Presidency, while by Notification 
No. 228 of the same date they were placed under the jurisdic- 
tion of the Madras High Court. 

The first authentic information about the Laccadives was 
gathered by Lieut. Bentley, who visited the Malabar group 

2 4 


Condition of 
islands, 1847. 
Robinson 11, 
pp. 32-36. 

Robinson II, 
P- ~A 

Monopoly of 
Robinson II, 
p. 40. 

And of im 

Robinson II, 
p. 46. 

in 1795 under circumstances already detailed. His short and 
rather summary report, which is still extant, is mainly 
statistical and is consequently of but little interest. The 
islands were not again visited until Mr. (afterwards Sir) 
W. Robinson visited the Amindivis in 1845 and the Malabar 
islands two years later. His two very full reports give a 
most interesting account of the islands at that time and bring 
out very clearly the difference between the condition of the 
Amindivi islanders under British rule and that of the other 
islanders under Cannanore mismanagement. 

The condition of the Malabar islanders had indeed become 
wretched. A sharp fall in the price of coir in 1826, from 
Rs. 60 to Rs. 20 per candy, had forced the Cannanore Rajas 
to reduce the price paid for the article, which was their 
monopoly, and other changes had also been introduced, with 
the consequence that the people were being paid at the rate 
of Rs. 6-6-0 per candy for their staple product, while the 
people on the Government islands were receiving Rs. 18-8-0 
per candy. In many years, indeed, the people were not paid 
at all for much of the coir or were paid by credit orders at the 
rate of 7 fanams (Rs. 1-6 -o) per muda of rice, the average 
price of rice being then Rs. 1-8-0 per muda. Again, in en- 
forcing the monopoly on coconuts, which did not exist on the 
Amindivis, the Raja paidRs. 5 per 1,000 (the average value on 
the coast being Rs. 7-9-O per 1,000) and also deducted an 
import duty of 10 per cent and made large allowances for 
small or bad nuts. So oppressive was this monopoly felt to 
be that smuggling had become rife. Except jaggery, all the 
minor products of the islands, cowries, tortoise-shell, trepang, 
etc., were also monopolised, and the terms granted to the 
islanders were as unfair and vexatious as in the case of the 
larger monopolies. The profits on the cowry monopoly 
amounted to 400 per cent. Even the manufacture of jaggery 
did not wholly escape, for the toddy drawers had to pay 
heavy presents to the officials on the islands. All breaches 
of monopoly were most severely punished. 

Forced by this monopoly system to sell all their exports to 
the Raja, at the arbitrary prices he chose to fix, the people's 
condition would have been miserable enough. But not content 
with the considerable profits thus accruing to him, the Raja 
maintained a strict monopoly of all the import trade as well. 
He forced the islanders to purchase commodities at his own 
price and to pay him in coir, supplying them with inferior rice 
and inferior ^tobacco, and using, it is almost superfluous 
+q,.add,r ^eights^-that favoured him by 2 or 3 lb. in every 
-r^auftd of 32 lb, Th'ie tobae<'<> trade was particulary scandalous. 


The price of a bundle of 3 maunds at Mahg was Rs. 12, 
but the islanders were forced to give in exchange 40 maunds 
of coir per bundle at Rs. 65 per candy in the earlier years and 
75 maunds at Rs. 20 per candy at the time of Sir 
W. Robinson's visit. The profits thus secured varied from 
500 to 1,000 per cent. But the great hardship in the whole 
proceeding was that the people had no option whether to buy 
or not. It was found impossible to check smuggling except 
by importing a large quantity of tobacco and then compelling 
every one to receive a share. When the tobacco arrived, the 
chief men of each division were given the share to be distri- 
buted in their respective divisions, and they in their turn had 
to distribute this share among the rest of the people. The 
requirements of the people were not considered at all, care 
only being taken to see that they were supplied with more 
than they actually needed, so that there might be no tempta- 
tion to smuggle. Again, monopolising as he did the whole of 
the produce of the islands, the Raja was necessarily the only 
person from whom the islanders could obtain loans or 
advances, and he took every advantage of the situation. 
Advances of rice or other articles were made for coir at retail 
monopoly prices on the islands. Accounts were kept in terms 
of bundles of coir and then converted into money at the market 
value of the coir. Two sets of accounts were kept, one on the 
islands for recent transactions, and the other at Cannanore for 
old outstanding balances. Judicial fines and penalties for 
breaches of monopoly, arrears of rent, fees for the grant of 
titles and upon accession to the Khaziship, in fact arrears of 
almost any kind, seem to have been carried to account against 
the various families. Nothing was ever written off as irrecover- 
able, and this balance of debt went on accumulating from 
year to year, until, at the time of Sir W. Robinson's visit, the 
indebtedness was so universal that 10 per cent of all coir 
imported to Cannanore was compulsorily deducted by the 
Raja as a set off. 

The discontent of the Cannanore islanders was naturally 
increased by contrast of their condition with that of the 
Amindivi islanders under British rule. The administration 
of the northern islands was conducted on much the same lines 
then as now, and the people enjoyed, except in famine years, 
a fair measure of prosperity. The coir monopoly was worked 
fairly and gave a sufficient return for their labour, although, 
owing to the low price of coir and the cheapness of rice, the 
system did not then yield the profits that were subsequently 
derived from it. There was no monopoly upon coconuts. 
Tortoise shell, ambergris and cowries were monopolised 

imports of 

to the Raja. 

Robinson IJ, 
P- 47- 

condition of 

Robinson II, 
P- 1 34- 




as on the Malabar islands but, except a tax on salt, 
there was no restriction upon other trade. The Malabar 
islanders naturally clamoured also to be taken under British 
rule, and feeling against the Raja grew more and more intense 
on the islands. Government could do but little without a 
departure from their policy of recognising the Raja's in- 
dependence. In 1859, however, while the islands were under 
Government management, the coconut, morinda citron, lime, 
tobacco, and salt monopolies, and the fees paid by pilots, 
were abolished upon the representations made by the Board 
of Revenue on Sir W. Robinson's reports. 

Since the final attachment in I875 little history has been 
made upon the islands. The people are wonderfully quiet and 
law-abiding and the only disturbances of the public peace 
which have to be recorded since the islands came under 
British management have been those at Androth in 1889 
already referred to, and riots on Minicoy in 1887 and 1912 
which might have had serious consequences. 
Disturbances The causes of the trouble at Minicoy in 1887 are obscure, 
on Minicoy in Mr. Dance had visited the island in December 1884 to appoint 
l887, a successor as Amin to the famous Dom Ali Malikhan, the 

richest man in Minicoy, who with his little fleet monopolised 
Minicoy trade, and who is still remembered throughout the 
Laccadives as the " Capithan." The people's choice rested 
upon Bodugothi Ali Malikhan in preference to Dom Malikhan's 
brother. Mr. Dance returned to Minicoy in the "May Frere " 
in January 1885 and attempted to issue cowles for the Pan- 
daram lands, in accordance with the system already success- 
fully introduced by Mr. Logan upon the other islands. Only 
3 men, however, agreed to take cowles. The rest of the 
islanders stubbornly refused to have anything to do with the 
innovation. In January 1887, Mr. Logan himself accompanied 
Mr. Dance to Minicoy, expecting to be able to reason the 
islanders into accepting his scheme. Mr. Logan, however, at 
once found that any attempt to parcel out the Big South 
Pandaram on cowle must be abandoned. Mr. Logan returned 
to Calicut after explaining to the people that cowles would not 
be introduced, leaving Mr. Dance with orders to clear the 
screw-pine jungle in the Big South Pandaram, as a first step 
in the extermination of the rats which, then as now, caused 
incalculable damage to the coconuts. The people, however, 
proved as determined in their opposition to the clearing of 
the jungle as they had been to the introduction of the cowles. 
Mr. Dance attempted to reason with them, but they always 
fell back upon the answer that it was contrary to custom, and 



that it would be necessary to kill or transport them before the 
jungle could be cleared. 

Next day (February 10th) Mr. Dance could get no coolies to 
help with the survey. He went with the Amin into the village 
and found the islanders assembled at their different meeting 
places. He went to where the Takrus were assembled, having 
heard that they were the most troublesome, and asked for 
20 coolies, informing the headman that if the coolies were not 
sent, the headman would be imprisoned for obstructing the 
officers of Government. He then left, but had hardly gone' 
20 yards when the whole assembly rushed upon his little 
party, shouting that they would kill the Amin. Mr. Dance 
placed himself in front of the Amin, and, with the assistance 
of his two peons who pluckily stood their ground, held the 
crowd back. No attempt appears to have been made to strike 
Mr. Dance but the crowd kept trying to hit at the Amin behind 
him. After some minutes Mr. Dance succeeded in pacifying 
the islanders and told them, if they had any grievance, to come 
to the cutcherry and represent it quietly, but that for the 
present he must have the coolies. Coolies were given him 
and he was allowed to go. 

In the evening, a large noisy crowd came to the cutcherry 
with a petition, demanding the dismissal of the Amin. 
Mr. Dance insisted that he would only discuss the matter with 
the headmen, and after considerable difficulty succeeded in 
getting the crowd to withdraw a short distance from the 
cutcherry. Mr. Dance told the headmen he required time 
until next day to consider their request. With very great 
difficulty he extracted a promise from them that they would 
prevent any disturbance until then, but they gave him clearly 
to understand that, if he did not eventually accede to their 
request, there would certainly be a riot. Indeed when the 
headmen returned to the crowd and reported the result of their 
interview with Mr. Dance, the attitude of the islanders became 
so threatening that Mr. Dance and Capt. Mitchell, R.I.M., 
decided to disperse them at once, and pluckily went among 
them, and, with the greatest difficulty, succeeded in getting 
them to go away. 

Later in the evening Mr. Dance received information that 
the islanders proposed to detain him on the island until he 
dismissed the Amin. As he had not a sufficient force with 
him to repel them in the event of an attack or to enforce his 
authority, he withdrew to the steamer under cover of night, 
taking with him only the Government records and maps, and 
of necessity leaving behind his own personal property and the 
Government treasure box, which was in the Amin's house in 
the village and could not be secured in time. 



Next morning (February Ilth) he sailed to Calicut for 
assistance. Government, by wire, ordered Mr. Logan to return 
to the island with Mr. Dance, the Assistant Superintendent of 
Police, Malappuram, Mr. Baudry, and 100 men of the Special 
Force, to restore order. The order was received by wire at 
Malappuram at 8 p.m. on the 15th, yet Mr. Baudry had his men 
all in Calicut by 9-30 next morning with their baggage and 
equipment, a most creditable performance. Mr. Dance, who 
had been sent to Madras to explain matters personally to 
Government, returned on the 16th evening, and the Collector 
sailed for Minicoy on the 17th. The Government treasure and 
Mr. Dance's things were found untouched, and no further 
disturbance of any kind was attempted. 

Their cause?. At the enquiry which Mr. Logan at once proceeded to 
hold, no cause for the people's conduct was at all clearly 
established. Mr. Logan seems to have thought that the outcry 
against the clearance of the jungle was a mere pretence, and 
that the whole affair was organized by Dom Malikhan, the 
late Amin's brother, in order to secure the dismissal of the 
newly appointed Amin, who had undoubtedly done his best 
to undermine Dom Malikhan's monopoly of the island trade, 
by arranging with a wealthy Cutch firm to establish an 
agency on Minicoy. The Amin had even gone so far as to 
repair the old Pandaram ship, Hydrose, and send her to the 
Maldives with a cargo belonging to the Cutch merchant, credit- 
ing to Government a freightage of about a fourth of the amount 
which he debited for repairs. The opposition to the clearance 
of the jungle collapsed dramatically as soon as Dom Malikhan 
admitted that he was not opposed to it, and it is remarkable 
that the Takrus, the class most dependent upon Dom Mali- 
khan, were almost the only section of the people who had 
opposed Mr. Dance's orders in the matter. Government 
commended Mr. Dance for his courage and prudence, but 
considered that he should not have left the island before 
passing orders, as he had promised to do.. So ended the 
affair, but the question of introducing the cowle system, or of 
substituting a tree tax for the poll tax and tax on fishing 
boats, was indefinitely postponed. 

in 1912. The next trouble on Minicoy arose in IQI2 when Mr. Doig, 

the Inspecting Officer that year, was faced with a very similar 
situation. He found the whole island clamouring for the 
removal of an unpopular Amin. He was even threatened 
with detention on the island until he should dismiss the 
Amin, and thought it wisest to get away from the island as 
quietly as possible and secure police assistance from Calicut. 
Mr. C. A. Innes, the Collector, with a force of Reserve police, 
returned with him to the island and held an enquiry. The 



real grounds for the strong feeling against the Amin were 
never fully discovered, but it seems highly probable that, as 
in 1887, the question of the Great South Pandaram led to the 
revolt of the people against authority. Although the South 
Pandaram was Government property and Government through 
the Amin was taking the coconut crop produced from it, the 
people possessed certain very valuable communal rights in it, 
as regards the cutting of timber and the taking of cadjans 
for thatching, and also received very large remuneration in 
the shape of mamuls for their help in plucking the nuts. 
There can be little doubt that successive Amins had been 
forced to allow a distribution of nuts considerably in excess 
of. the mamuls, or that they themselves took a good share of 
the total produce. It is impossible otherwise to account for 

''the steady decline in the total of nuts plucked each year, and, 
when it is remembered that the people have almost no land 
of their own and that the Pandaram includes nearly all the 
planted area of the island, the temptations will be obvious. 

, Attempts had been made by the Inspecting Officers in 1908 
and 1909 to impress upon the Amin the necessity for a strict 
adherence to the mamuls, and threats were held out that if an 
improvement was not shown some other arrangement would 
have to be made. Some effect was produced by these means. 
The number of nuts plucked increased considerably in the 
next two years. But the people were determined, apparently, 
to break an Amin who should attempt to be honest and 
deprive them of their unauthorised mamuls. The result was 
a conspiracy against the Amin which broke out upon 
Mr. Doig's arrival. 

Mr. Innes' first care, upon reaching the islands, was to 
re-establish authority, which he succeeded in doing without 
difficulty. He then set about enquiring into the grievances 
against the Amin. Having satisfied himself that they origi- 
nated almost entirely out of the management of the South 
Pandaram, he began to consider the possibility of establish- 
ing some other system. He was much impressed with the 
injustice of the old system, received from the Bibi's time, by 
which nearly the whole planted area of the island was the 
monopoly of Government, and the people's legitimate share in 
the produce only some exiguous mamuls. It was obvious too 
that there could be no check upon the honesty of the Amin 
and the people, and that, when they chose to combine, 
Government was at their mercy, while when the Amin tried 
to be honest he had to face the united opposition of the whole 
island. The people had always refused to allow individuals 
to accept cowles in the Pandaram, and Mr. Innes found them 



still equally opposed to that course. He decided that the 
only alternative was to hand over the whole Pandaram to 
them in common, on a rental of Rs. 1,552 to he revised after 
30 years. The people willingly accepted this decision. It 
constituted an extremely liberal settlement which proved bene- 
ficial in every way. A perpetual cause of unrest was removed 
and peace and tranquillity have reigned on the island since. 
The people secured a very valuable property which they at 
once set about managing and improving. They are no 
strangers to co-operative principles and thus were peculiarly 
fitted to manage their new property successfully. In imitation 
of the old Sirkar administration a special Pandaram Amin 
and peons were appointed. The Amin holds office for one 
year and with the Attiri Muppans administers the Pandaram. 
Under his control each Attiri has its own section of the 
Pandaram to attend to. Immediately the condition of the 
Pandaram altered strikingly. Under the old regime the 
ground beneath the trees was covered with a mass of screw- 
pine jungle, there were only a few main paths, and planting 
took place spasmodically for a year or two at long intervals 
and then only in the portion nearest the village. Now the 
jungle is being cleared, good paths cut, and planting is being 
regularly attended to by each Attiri in its own section. 
After division of a portion of the proceeds, a communal fund 
has been formed with the balance, and already, out of this 
fund, one of the old Minicoy brigs, which used to belong to 
the famous Dom Malikhan, has been purchased from his 
successors, repaired, and sailed to Madras and Calcutta on a 
co-operative trading enterprise. There can be little doubt 
that with their industry and capacity the islanders will 
eventually make the Pandaram a very valuable property 
indeed. The Pandaram Amin is already for his term of 
office the most influential man on the island. The rise of 
this new official of the people, combined with the already 
powerful organisation of the Attiris, has resulted in the reduc- 
tion of the Sirkar Amin to an unfortunately subordinate 
position, while it has become impossible to secure the 
attendance at Court of the Cutcherry Muppans or any 
candidates for vacancies among them. 
The great The German Cruiser Em den operated off the Laecaclives 

war - for a short time in September and October 1914 and sank 

several vessels on the trade routes which run north and south 
of Minicoy. Several life boats and some wreckage belonging 
to the vessels sunk were washed up on Kalpeni. 
Inspections. After Sir W. Robinson's visit in 1847, more than 20 years 
elapsed before the Malabar Laccadives were again visited by 



a British officer (Mr. Logan in 1869). The Amindivis had been 
visited by Mr. Sewell three years previously. Government 
repeatedly resolved that the island should be visited at least 
biennially, but the greatest difficulty was found in obtaining 
a ship to take the Inspecting Officer out, and it was only for 
a few years subsequent to 1902 that visits were made with any 
regularity. A list of Inspecting Officers is given in 
Appendix IV. 

The earlier visits were made under not the most comfort- incidents of 
able conditions. Mr. Sewell in 1866 had to charter and ^ r n 's! rinSpeC " 
provision a pattamar for his visit. The little Mtirgiiret North- 
cotc made many of the earlier voyages. One advantage of 
her small size was that she could enter the lagoons and 
anchor close inshore, but she carried no reserve of coal. 
Coal recovered from wrecks at Kalpeni was very largely used 
in some years. Trips made in her possessed an unpleasant 
element of uncertainty. On one occasion her engines broke 
down and she was only just worked back to Calicut. On 
another, in November 1881, she altogether failed to make failure to 
Minicoy. The ship was sent out with a faulty chronometer ,iik1 Minicoy. 
and after failing to make the island was forced to return for 
want of water. Her captain indeed seems to have been 
fortunate in making the mainland again at all, for Mr. Under- 
wood writes "when the chronometer was taken on board 
H.M.S. Ready to be rated, the Captain and Navigating 
Lieutenant were pleased to be facetious over it and pre- 
sumed it was only because the continent was in the way that 
we had not gone to Rangoon." Eventually she reached 

Similar difficulties were experienced on the trips made in 
later years by the Margucriia, subsequently employed on the 
Tuticorin Pearl Fisheries. She too once failed to find Minicoy, 
although by that time (1895) a light house had been erected on 
the island; and, after steaming in all directions for 24 hours 
without sighting the island, was forced to return. The printed 
reports record no reason for this misadventure. 

In 1891, the B.I. S.N. Kistna was chartered to take Purchase of 
Mr. Hewetson, the Collector, who himself inspected the islands a stca m 
that year. In view of the expense entailed, Mr. Hewetson proposed, 
recommended the purchase of a suitable steam yacht for the 
use of the Collector, and his proposal was supported by the 
Board and repeated again by the Board in 1893, but action was 
deferred by Government as the question of the future adminis- 
tration of the islands was then under discussion with the 
Secretary of State. In 1892 the Indian Marine S.S. Oittram 
was placed at the disposal of Government for the inspection, 
but in 1893 and again in 1895 no Indian Marine vessel was 




available and recourse was had once more to the Margucrita. 
In 1898 it was found impossible to obtain any vessel except at 
prohibitive cost, and the visit arranged for that year had to be 
given up. In 1900 the R.I.M.S. Elphiitstone was placed at the 
disposal of Government. Finally in 1901 it was ordered by 
TheK.I.M. the Government of India (vide G.O. No. 547, Revenue, dated 

steimer Sha 27th ^ lme I901 ^ that in future an RLM - sr >'P would be placed 
annually. annually at the disposal of the Madras Government for the 
inspection trip. From that date until the Great War broke out, 
annual inspections were made except in the years 1903, 1910 
and 1911, when again no R.I.M. steamers were available. The 
outbreak of war and the consequent impossibility of securing 
a ship prevented further inspection till 1920, with the excep- 
tion of a short visit by Mr. Evans in 1916 to Minicoy and 
Androth, which was made from Colombo in the Board of Trade 
Lights steamer. 

The great importance of an annual inspection of the islands 
has long been recognised but the impossibility of obtaining a 
ship in each year has so far prevented this from being done- 
The result of the war was to make it impossible for the R.I.M. 
to carry out the orders of 1901. It has been promised that in 
future, provided the Madras Government gives sufficient notice 
an R.I.M. ship will be placed at its disposal for the inspection, 
but the difficulties and failures of past years leave little hope- 
that it will always be possible to fulfil the promise. Other 
alternatives have been proposed from time to time. In 1918-19 
the proposal to build a joint inspection steamer and trawler 
for the Fisheries Department was very thoroughly examined by 
a Committee, and sanctioned plans for the proposed steamer 
were sent to England for execution, but the proposal had to be 
dropped owing to the prohibitive cost of construction at post- 
war rates. Iu counexion with the inspection of 1920 enquirits 
were made in Colombo as to the possibility of chartering a 
steamer there for the trip. It was found that steamers belong- 
ing to Messrs. Walker & Co., Colombo, and also the Ceylon 
Government trawlers, could be made available by arrangement 
but the necessity to proceed further in the matter was obviated 
by the R.I.M. being able to place the Minto on duty for the 
inspection. In 1 922, the inspection was made in the Lady 
Nicholson, belonging to the Fisheries Department. She per- 
formed the service quite satisfactorily and if she can be made 
available for the inspection in future years, the difficult 
problem of finding a suitable ship would appear to haye been 

Vieclcs. Situated as they are in the line of navigation from the Cape 

.to Bombay or Colombo to Aden or Bombay, shipwrecks have 



been frequent upon these low-lying islands. The following is 
a list :— 

1828. The Byramgore bound from China to Bombay laden 
with silver, silks, etc., was lost on the reef to which she has 
given her name. 

1844. The Ceylon, England to Bombay, was wrecked on 
Cheriyapani reef. All the crew were lost. Sir W. Robinson, 
then Head Assistant, was sent to recover the cargo and 
succeeded in salving a very large part of it. He very 
generously invested Rs. 4,000, presented to him as salvage fees, 
in Government paper and set it apart as an island Charity 
Fund for the support of destitute islanders. The fund now 
amounts to Rs. 9,000 and supports from 10 to 12 islanders. 

1853. The Vizier bound from England to Bombay was 
wrecked on Cheriyapani. Her cargo, piece-goods, cotton 
stuffs, cutlery, etc., was lost but the crew succeeded in reaching 
Chetlat where they lived for some months before being taken 
off. On Chetlat Carpenter Primrose died and a tombstone was 
subsequently erected over his grave by the crew of the 
General Simpson in 1863. It has recently been repaired by 
the Monegar. 

1854. The Homidy, an Arab ship bound from Bombay 
to Mauritius, was lost on Byramgore, but the crew and part of 
the cargo were saved. 

The Mohoined, a pilgrim ship from the Malabar Coast, 
went ashore at Ameni, through carelessness while shifting her 
anchorage, and was lost, but fortunately the crew and 
pilgrims were all saved. It is believed that the two old guns 
which ornament the platform in front of the cutcherry at 
Ameni belonged to this ship. 

1858. The Alchemist from England to Bombay and the 
Sultan, Mauritius tn Bombay were both lost on Byramgore. 

1863. The General Simpson, bound from Bombay to 
England with cotton, was lost on Chetlat. 

1864. The Tutch Rusack sent to salve the General 
Simpson, approaching Chetlat at night, ran on the reef and was 

1865. The Lord Brougham was lost on Cheriyapani and 
the Abel Tasman, a Dutch ship bound from Bombay to London, 
was wrecked on Byramgore, set on fire and abandoned. 

1880. The Amelia was lost on Kalpeni. Coal recovered 
from her was long used by the small inspection steamers. 
Her boilers were washed up on to the reef by the Cyclone of 1922. 

1881. The Mahablcshivar was lost off the Bangaram reef 
during the monsoon. The crew succeeded in escaping to 
Bangaram where they lived for about three months until 
discovered by the Agathi Islanders on visiting Bangaram after 



the close of the monsoon. Rough calendars cut Crusoe 
fashion on some trees on Bangaram can still be seen and the 
wreck itself is still visible in calm weather. 

1899. The Thrunscoe was lost off the north-east end of 
the Minicoy reef. 

1909. The Duffryn Manor bound from Colombo to London 
was lost in almost the same position. She was a new ship 
returning home on her first voyage, laden with rice which 
was freely presented to the islanders and jettisoned, in the 
hope of lightening the ship sufficiently to get her off. The 
islanders received almost a five years' supply of rice and 
actually commenced to export it. The ship's accommodation 
ladder for some years adorned the Minicoy jetty, while a big 
cast iron bath was installed iin the cutcherry for the use of 
the Inspecting Officer. 

1910. The Dclagoa, a Swedish steamer bound from Colom- 
bo to Europe, stranded on the north, east end of the island, 
and became a total wreck. 

191 1. The Bcachy chartered by the P. & O. Company to 
carry a cargo of goods for the Delhi Darbar went ashore in 
December at almost the same spot as the two preceding ships. 
Among her cargo was some of the King's State harness and 
about 40 tons of fireworks for the Darbar celebrations. The 
ship was lightened by salvage parties from Colombo and was 
eventually got off but the cargo arrived too late for the Darbar. 

It is interesting to note that all the wrecks before 1865 
occurred on the northern islands and reefs, and that, synch- 
ronising with the change in the trade route to India which 
followed upon the opening of the Suez Canal and with the wider 
application of steam to shipping, wrecks on those islands 
ceased entirely from that year, while the few wrecks subse- 
quently have occurred on the southern islands, no less than 
three of them being on Minicoy alone, which lies directly in 
the present trade routes from Colombo to Aden or Bombay. 
Minicoy The location of a lighthouse on Minicoy was decided upon 

Lighthouse. jn l882 The building was actually commenced in 1883 and 

finished in 1885. The lighthouse is 160 feet high and the 
l^feht is visible for 19 miles. Along with the Basses light- 
house off the Ceylon coast, it is under the direct control of the 
Board of Trade, London, and is in charge of the Superinten- 
dent, Imperial Light Service, Colombo, who visits Minicoy 
every six months in the Board of Trade tender Ceylon to re- 
lieve the light-keepers and to replenish their oil and stores. 
Minicoy islanders are granted free passages in the Ceylon 
to and from the island under certain restrictions. The trans- 
fer of the lighthouse to the Government of India is under 





The form of Government which prevailed on the islands in ^ f a ^ v f e ° r " n 
early times appears to have been patriarchal. Authority ment 
seems to have vested on each island in a Muthalal who was 
assisted by the heads of the principal families (Mookyasthans) R °t»nsonIl, 
as a kind of panchayat. In Ameni there existed a council of K 0 i,j nson j 
the four principal families, which had some authority over p. 16. 
Chetlat, Kiltan and Kadamat but otherwise each island was 
independent. This system seems to have continued until 
some time after the islands came under the power of the 
Cannanore Rajas. The Rajas at first managed the islands Under the 
through the Muthalals but subsequently appointed their own RajasT" 016 
agents, known as Kariyakars, upon each island. These men 
were supposed to act in conjunction with the Mookyasthans 
or Karanavars as they are now called. Each Kariyakar was 
assisted by an accountant and 3 or 4 nadpals or peons. As no 
Raja ever visited the islands, there could be no control what- 
ever over the Kariyakars and it can easily be imagined how Robinso II, 
greatly they abused their power. Their salary was small, 24 p ' 5 °' 
mudas of rice (Rs. 36) per annum, but they were allowed to 
levy a cess upon the islanders. The Kariyakar himself had 
to pay the Raja a nazeranah of Rs. 30 upon appointment, 
and a similar fine for the renewal of his purwana every time 
he quitted the island. With other fines and fees to the palace 
officials, the expenses attending the appointment were well 
known to exceed the salary attached to it. The Kariyakar Exaction by 
necessarily depended upon what he could exact from the ^ r ^ mya " 
people, so much of the fish caught, a quarter of every bullock 
killed, fees on imprisonments and releases, on pilots, on the 
launch of a new boat. These exactions eventually came to be 
levied at a fixed rate and the accountant and nadpals claimed 
their share in strict proportion. When the Kariyakars hap- 
pened to be islanders their official remuneration was reduced 
by half, but they seem to have had no compunction in levying 
the difference off their fellow-islanders and the islanders 
fared as badly under one of themselves as under a main- 

On the South Kanara Islands, the single Kariyakar who present 
had administered the group from Ameni was replaced, administra- 
when the islands came under British administration by a South 
Monegar resident on Ameni, assisted by a karani or clerk, with Islands. 



Robinson I, peons, permanently stationed on each of the smaller islands. 
p ' 39 ' The system has continued to the present time but, with 

improvement in the class of men holding the office, the powers 
of the monegar have been increased. In 1845 he had the 
powers of an Amin, of Police, while disputes of a civil nature 
No?'2045 were decided by the Karanavars or the Khazi. In 1863 a sub- 
2nd Sep. monegar was appointed for Chetlat, but as he abused his 
1867 powers and allowed his authority to clash with that of the 

monegar, the post was abolished in 1867 and the monegar 
was invested with the powers of a village magistrate and 
G.o. N0.1S6. village munsif as defined in Regulations XI of 1816, IV of 
30th Jan. ' 1821, and IV and V of 1816. He also had power to inflict fines 
l8? " under the Cattle Trespass Act. In 1871 the pay of the post 

was raised to Rs. 70 and in 1872 the monegar was invested 
with the powers of a Third-class Magistrate "provided that in 
cases beyond his jurisdiction under Regulation XI of 1816 and 
within his summary jurisdiction as Third-class Magistrate he 
shall associate with himself as assessors not less than three of 
the Karanavars of the island in which the trial is held, who 
CO. No. 186 shall record their view of the evidence, etc., apart from the 
30th January monegar's finding." It was pointed out, however, by Mr. Hall 
,8?2 ' in his report for 1874 that the monegar's duties were so multi- 

farious and he was required by custom to exercise authority in 
so many ways outside the scope of the Civil Procedure Code 
and the Regulations, that the result of binding him down to 
laws would be to curtail his power to the verge of uselessness 
and upset a form of Government which the people were 
accustomed to and found sufficient. The Scheduled Districts 
Act (XIV of 1874) was extended to "the Laccadives " by 
Notification No. 83, Judicial, dated 19th February J889. This 
notification, of course, could only apply to the Amindivis, the 
Malabar Islands not then forming a part of British India. But 
no notifications under section 3 of the Act were made. In 
consequence, the High Court held (I.L.R. 13 Mad., p. 353) that 
both the Indian Penal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code 
are in force on the Amindivis. The monegar is therefore now 
appointed a Deputy Tahsildar and in virtue of his office 
exercises Third-class, powers under the Criminal Procedure 
Code, and appeals and revision petitions lie as laid down in the 
Code. He also tries a number of more serious offences such 
as defamation and adultery, under the customary laws, and 
exercises Civil powers under Madras Regulation, IV of 
1816. The present monegar is assisted by a gumastah'on 
Ameni with a resident peon or karani on each of the other 
islands. The monegar is required to visit the other islands 
at least three times a year. The karanies have no powers 



and act simply as channels of communication between the 
monegar and the other islands while he is absent at Ameni. 
They report to him for orders and carry out the orders when 

By Notification No. 268, dated 9th July 1889, the State ^ e in ^ 
Prisoners' Act (XXXIV of 1850 and III of 1858) by Notification, j^. 6 
No. 285, dated 4th July 1898, the Lunacy Act, XXXV of 1858) 
and by Notification No. 197, Judicial, dated Ilth February 19O9, 
sections 36 to 43 of the Civil Procedure Code were made appli- 
cable to the South Kanara Islands. But the State Prisoners' 
Regulation (II of 18 19) is not in force (G.O. No. 2662, dated 
13th August 1910). 

On the Malabar islands the system of admin'stration by On the 
Kariyakars nominally prevailed until 1875. After the islands ?^'^ r 
were released in 1864 from the first attachment, the Raja con- 
tinued to be represented by an agent on each island but his 
authority was not recjgnised by the islandets who were by 
that time in more or less open revolt. Upon the last attach- 
ment in 1875 mainlanders were appointed by the Collector 
and sent out as Amins to replace the Raja's Kariyakars and 
gumasthans. Men of the right stamp however would not 
take up the posts although the pay was' Rs. 35 per mensem, 
and the men who were sent out proved as corrupt and incom- 
petent as their predecessors. At the very next inspection in 
1877 Mr. Winterbotham found it necessary to recommend the 
recall of all of them. He condemned the system of appoint- 
ing mainlanders at all and proposed that competent islanders 
should be appointed as Amins on a salary of Rs. 25, assisted 
by mainlanders as gumasthans. This change was effected 
immediately and islanders have ever since been appointed as 
Amins. With the spread of education it has been found pos- 
sible to secure islanders also sufficiently qualified for the post 
of gumasthan. These posts are not at present treated as 
hereditary. The Amin is almost always selected from among 
the Karanavars. 

There is thus now on each island an Amin, with a gumas- 
than to assist him in his clerical work. The Amin has juris- 
diction in petty civil and criminal cases. More important 
cases, and appeals from the Amin's decisions, lie within the 
jurisdiction of the Collector of Malabar who delegates his 
powers to the Headquarters Deputy Collector or to the officer 
annually deputed to inspect the islands. There is no appeal 
from their decisions to the Collector but revision petitions are 
entertained upon good cause being shown. Appeals lie to the 
High Court under the provisions of Regulation 1 of 1912. 



Regulation I 
of 1912. 

The Reforms. 

Placed in 
charge of 

Appeal time 

scrutiny of 

By this Regulation, passed on 22nd January 1912, Island 
law and procedure has been to some extent legalised and codi- 
fied for the Malabar islands. Section 3 declares that the only 
enactments in force on the Malabar Islands are the Madras 
State Prisoners' Regulation (II of 1819), the State Prisoners' 
Act (XXXIV of 1850 and III of 1858), the Scheduled Districts 
Act (XIV of 1874) and the Regulation itself, thus removing 
any doubt that may have existed as to the applicability to the 
Malabar Islands of enactments declared to be in force on the 
South Kanara Islands. 

Upon the introduction of the Montagu Chelmsford Reforms 
both the groups were declared " Backward" tracts (Notifica- 
tion of the Governor-General, dated 3rd January 1921) and were 
excluded from the operations of the Legislative Councils. By 
the same notification the Governor is authorised to direct that 
any act of the local legislature shall not apply to the islands 
or shall apply subject to such exceptions or modifications as 
the Governor may think fit. No notification has yet (1922) 
been issued. Until one is issued, all enactments applicable 
to the whole Presidency, passed subsequent to the passing of 
the Government of India Act, will apply to both groups. 

In 1891 when inspections were not carried out annually 
the Malabar Islands were placed in charge of the Headquar- 
ters Deputy Collector. He has power to entertain all cases 
outside the jurisdiction of the Amins and to hear appeals from 
their decisions. The appeal time was originally fixed at six 
months. When inspections became annual, at any rate in 
theory, the practice grew up of allowing cases and appeals 
filed before the Collector or Deputy Collector to lie over until 
the yearly inspection took place so as to admit of their dis- 
posal on the islands themselves. As a means to the same end 
the monsoon months were excluded in reckoning the six 
months appeal time on the Amindivis. The same rule has 
been adopted for the Malabar islands also under Regulation 
1 (Section 17). The Deputy Collector's powers have thus be- 
come merely nominal except in years when no inspection 
takes place. 

Besides the annual inspection of the islands, a yearly scru- 
tiny of the accounts is held in April or May. The Amins of 
the Malabar Islands attend at Calicut with their accounts and 
collections which are checked by the Island Department of 
the Collector's office. The Monegar of the South Kanara 
islands similarly attends the Collector's office at Mangalore 
for the check of his accounts and collections and he is further 
required to remain at Mangalore during the fair weather 
months to assist in receiving and paying for the shipments of 




coir. After a short period of leave which is then allowed him, 
he returns to Ameni before the monsoon bursts. 

Inspections of both groups are made so far as possible 
annually by a Covenanted Civilian. The Collector of Malabar 
usually takes the opportunity to pay a short visit to one or 
two of the islands. Up to 1908 it was the practice to depute 
two officers on this inspection duty, one from South Kanara 
and one from Malabar. In 1909 one officer was deputed to 
inspect all the islands, the main reason for the change being 
in the first instance that Government wished the proposal to 
transfer the South Kanara islands to Malabar carefully 
explained to them by a Malabar official. The new arrange- 
ment was found to be not only economical, as one officer can 
do the work in very little longer time than it previously took 
each of the officers deputed, while the R.I.M. Steamer is 
required only to take the officer out to the northernmost 
island and meet him again at one of the southern islands to 
which he can work his way in island craft, but also more 
efficient in that the Malabar officer and his Malabar staff are 
in closer touch with the Amindivi people and are more easily 
and directly able to dispose of the work in Malayalam than 
the party sent from the South Kanara district could be, work- 
ing as they had to do through interpreters. This arrange- 
ment is to be continued experimentally for a few years before 
it is finally decided whether or not to adopt it permanently- 
A dispensary was established at Ameni in 1874 in charge 
of a Hospital Assistant- In 1875 a midwife was attached 
to the institution. Originally the Hospital Assistant visited 
the other islands of the South Kanara group only occasionally. 
In 1881 it was ordered that he should visit each island once a 
year with the Monegar when the latter went on tour, and 
this is now regularly done. In addition he visits any island 
of the group upon the outbreak of cholera or any other epide- 
mic. The Sub-Assistant Surgeon, as he is now styled, during 
these visits carries out vaccination on the outlying islands. 

Epidemics of cholera have been common and, till the estab- 
lishment of a Medical Officer at Ameni, carried off a large 
number of victims. The chief diseases treated at the dispen- 
sary are diseases of the stomach and bowels, worms, diseases 
of the skin, rheumatism and eye diseases. Ophthalmia and 
other eye diseases are, however, less common than formerly 
as a result probably of skilled treatment and advice being 
now available. 

Although there has been a midwife attached to the dispen- 
sary since 1875, with short breaks, the people remain very 
ignorant and prejudiced, and avail themselves of her services 

by two 

G.O. No. 

2662, Rev., 
13th Aug. 

By one officer 
for the whole 

Medical Aid. 



but seldom. The methods of their own midwives are crude 
beyond belief and infantile mortality is in consequence very 

There is no resident Medical Officer on the Malabar group. 
A dispensary in charge of a Hospital Assistant was estab- 
lished on Minicoy in 1891, but in 1901 it was transferred to 
Androth as the work being done was negligible owing mainly 
to the utter indifference of the islanders to modern medical 
treatment. The dispensary, after working at Androth for four 
years, was finally closed for the same reason in 1905. Subse- 
quently a Sub-Assistant Surgeon has always been attached to 
the inspecting officer's staff and in addition to attending to the 
health of the inspecting party he treats the sick upon each 
island visited, carries out vaccination as far as possible, and 
looks to measures of sanitation and health. But this is all the 
medical aid available to the Malabar islands. All diseases 
are in consequence far more common than on the South 
Kanara islands, while epidemics of cholera levy a severe toll 
upon the inhabitants. The people have now come to see the 
advantages of proper medical and surgical treatment and are 
greatly desirous to have medical officers resident on the 

Robinson * n T ^44' (then Mr.) Robinson was instrumental in 

Poor Fund. salving a larger portion of the cargo of the Ceylon wrecked 
upon Cheriapani Reef. Government granted him a reward 
of Rs. 4,000 which he generously devoted to founding a Poor 
• Fund for the benefit of the poor on the Amindivi islands. 
The fund now amounts to over Rs. 9,000 invested in Govern- 
ment Securities. The interest is devoted to the maintenance 
of deserving poor upon the South Kanara islands. There 
are usually from 10 to 12 persons on the Fund, some receiving 
relief at full and others at half rates. 

The full rates are, for each recipient per annum, 4 muras 
14% seers of rice, 4% yards of cloth, 24 lb. salt, I lb. tobacco 
and four annas' worth of condiments. 
Education. Koran classes for both boys and girls appear t o have been 

held on all the islands in connexion with the mosques from 
time immemorial. All children under a certain age attend 
these schools most regularly, but the instruction imparted goes 
no further than to enable the children to read Koran in Arabic 
characters and to recite large portions of it by heart. They 
are totally ignorant of the meaning of what they are reading 
or reciting. In the earlier years of British administration it 
was thought that the people were too backward to realise the 
value of education and it was not until 1885 that attempts to 
start a school on Ameni were made. In that year an islander 



was sent to the mainland and trained as a schoolmaster, the 
proposal being that he should, on his return, work in the 
mosque school under the Mukri. This he did, but after a little 
time the Mukri died and the teacher set up a small school 
independently of any mosque school, himself instructing the 
boys in the Koran. The result, ten years later, was found to 
be that the instruction given was little better than that 
imparted by the Koran schools as the teacher in addition to 
teaching the Koran imparted only a smattering of Malayalam 
to a few of the boys. By 1897 even this had ceased. Propo- 
sals to educate the islanders in Kanarese occupied the field 
for the next few years but fortunately were never carried out. 
In 1905 a trained teacher from the Local Board Panchama 
School, Kasaragode, was sent to Ameni and since then progress 
in education has been fairly steady. The school started with 
about 20 boys on the rolls. It has now over 80 and an assistant 
master has been appointed. Reading and writing in Malaya- 
lam, and arithmetic, are taught up to the fourth standard and 
also a little History and Geography- 
Educational progress on the Malabar islands has been very Malabar 
similar. A school was started on Kalpeni in some year prior islands - 
to 1884. A school on Kavarathi was started in 1884, and on 
Agathi somewhat later. Between 1890 and 1893 a small school 
existed on Minicoy. In 1891 a school was started on Androth. 
The attendance, however, at none of the schools much exceed- 
ed 20 and often fell below 10 and the instruction imparted was 
elementary. Since 1905 the schools have worked rather more 
systematically, though it can hardly be said that there is yet 
any widespread desire among the islanders for education, and 
it requires constant pressure on the part of inspecting officers 
to keep the attendance in the schools even moderately good. 
The schools are inspected by the inspecting officer. Results 
grants were formerly paid to the masters according to the 
passes obtained, for each pass in the Infant standard Re. I, 
in I standard Rs. 2, in II standard Rs. 3, in III standard Rs. 4, 
in V standard Rs. 5. The masters on both groups in 1922 were 
placed upon a graded time-scale of pay (Rs. 20--1 — 30, and 
Rs. 25 — 1--50 for elementary and higher elementary grade 
teachers respectively) and results grants were abolished. The 
Agathi school, teaching up to the III standard had in 1920, 
25 children on the rolls, the Kavarathi schcol teaching up to 
V standard 32, and the Kalpeni school teaching up to IV 
standard 81. The Androth school was temporarily closed for 
want of a teacher. 

There is no system of Land Revenue upon any of the Revenue, 
islands. The chief sources of revenue on the Laccadives 



The coir 

Robinson II, 
PP- 33 jS. 

profits in 
early years. 


Robinson I, 
PP- 43-53- 

On the 

proper excluding Minicoy, are now the coir monopoly, rents 
of Pandaram lands, rents of the uninhabited islands, Tinna- 
kara, Bangaram and Suheli, and magisterial fines. There 
were also previously certain minor monopolies which have 
now been abandoned. 

Coir is a monopoly on all the islands except Minicoy. The 
monopoly was first introduced in 1 765 by Bommaly Raja who 
used the power and wealth he had acquired through the exer- 
tions of his Vizier, Kunhi Pakki, to establish a monopoly of 
purchase over the principal products of the islands. The 
market value of coir was then between Rs. 60 and Rs. 70 per 
candy and the price paid to the islanders was fixed at Rs. 30 — 
35 per candy, paid in rice at a commutation price of Rs. 2% per 
robbin, but the actual price paid was reduced to about Rs. 23% 
per candy by deduction of an import duty upon the coir itself 
at Cannanore, of an export duty upon the rice supplied in 
payment, and of further small sums on account of Nazzeranas 
and petty expenses. This gave a profit of Rs. 40 — 50 per candy 
and it is estimated that the monopoly produced in the early 
years a revenue to the Raja of between Rs. 65,000 and 
Rs. 75,000 which must have been very largely increased shortly 
afterwards when the price of rice began to fall. So strict and 
harsh was the enforcement of the monopoly that in 1784 it 
gave rise to the revolt of the northern islands, which secured 
much easier terms from Tippu. From this date onward to 
the present time the monopoly has been worked rather differ- 
ently in the two groups and its history in each will be traced 

In the early years of British rule on the South Kanara 
islands the coir was all paid for at a uniform rate of Rs. 25 per 
candy, one-fourth being paid in cash and three-fourths in rice 
at a commutation price of Rs. 2 per muda. It is unknown how 
or when the practice of paying a portion of the price in cash 
was first introduced. It is found firmly established in 1820, 
The monopoly was worked without any of the harshness and 
oppression which characterised the same system upon the 
Cannanore islands and the people early realised the advan- 
tages they derived from it. A uniform classification, however, 
tended to encourage the production of poor coir and in 1820 a 
second class paid for at Rs. 20 and subsequently even a third 
class at Rs. 17-8-0 was evolved, without definite orders, by the 
Collector's establishment. This led to complaints from the 
islanders of unfairness and delay in sorting, and to meet them 
it was ordered in 1837, on the recommendation of a panchayat 
of islanders and merchants, that there should in future be no 
separation into classes or examination as to quality, but that a 



fixed proportion of all the coir should be paid for as first, second 
and third class. It was found that the result of the previous No sorting 
classification had been to place on the average 66 per cent 11110 cla5ses - 
in the first class, 23 per cent in the second class and II per 
cent in the third and the following proportions were fixed : — 
Ameni and Kadamat — 

70 per cent first class at Rs. 21-14-O per candy. 

20 per cent second class at Rs. 17-8-O per candy. 

10 per cent third class at Rs. 1 3-2-0 per candy. 
Kiltan and Chetlat — 

80 per cent first class. 

15 percent second class. 

5 per cent third class. 
\ One-fourth of the price was still paid in cash and three-fourths 
in rice. 

This system worked at first most satisfactorily. It put a 
stop to the endless complaints brought by the islanders 
against the sorting establishment and it relieved the Collec- 
tor's office of all the trouble of classifying the coir, while the 
islanders for their part refrained from taking advantage of it 
to produce inferior coir. 

Until 1826, the Bombay and Bengal Governments took all The profits, 
the coir received at Mangalore at Rs. 65 per candy which left 
a good margin of profit upon the transactions. After that 
year, however the demand and with it the prices for coir 
rapidly fell, and the prices were not infrequently below the 
actual prices paid to the islanders. This unsatisfactory 
condition of things was remedied to some extent by a corres- 
ponding fall in the price of rice. In 1846 Sir W. Robinson 
calculated that with rice as it then was at 25 per cent below 
the commutation rate of Rs. 2 per muda, Government saved 
l8'M per cent of the price paid, while a charge of % maund of 
coir per muda of rice supplied, levied as a Sea Customs duty 
and placed in arrear against each boat and deducted the next 
year before any coir was paid for, reduced the price paid by 
another l8-M per cent, making a total saving of 37 per cent in 
all ; in other words instead of paying Rs. 21-14-0 per candy 
for first-class coir Government were only paying Rs. 14-O O. In 
spite of this, however, Sir W. Robinson calculated that the 
net profit for the preceding 15 years was only Rs. 3,741 ex- 
cluding the Rs- 5,250 paid to the Bibi of Cannanore, while if 
that was included in the disbursements there had been an 
actual surplus only in two years, 1836 and 1837. 

Coir continued to fall in value and the price of rice steadily 
rose, yet the financial position as reviewed at each inspection 
remained for many years wonderfully satisfactory, and 



Are replaced 
by an annual 

G.O. No. 
387, Kev., 
26th Match 

The >nl. 

G.O. No. 

1428, 9th 



G.O. No. 
387 , 26th 
March 1874. 

prognostications of the speedy bankruptcy of the island 
administration were unfulfilled. In 1866 the transactions for 
the years since Sir W. Robinson's visit showed a net average 
revenue of Rs- 9,271 per annum. In 1869 this average annual 
profit had risen to Rs. 11,508. In 1873 it had fallen for the 
previous four years to Rs. 7,437 but had risen again in 1880 to 
Rs. 8,818, although owing to a rise in prices the islanders 
were being'paid at the equivalent of Rs. 30 per candy. By 
1891 the average profit had fallen to Rs. 2,693. In ^93 it was 
only Rs. 1,145 and by 1895 an adverse balance of Rs. 5,465 
had accumulated. 

This result had been foretold by various inspecting offi- 
cers, notably by Sir W. Robinson so early as 1846 and by Sir 
G. Stokes in 1873 on the economic ground that the price of 
coconuts must tend to fall while the price of rice, a food stuff, 
must tend to rise. The conclusions were correct but there was 
an additional reason other than the rise and fall of prices 
that helped to cause the disappearance of the monopoly 
profits. This was in fact the laziness of the people them- 
selves. Being paid for the greater portion of the coir at first- 
class rates, on a fixed proportion of the output, whether it 
was really first-class or not, they ceased to exert themselves to 
produce first-class coir which not only takes far longer to 
manufacture but bulks smaller and is lighter than the inferior 
kinds. The natural result was that the prices fetched by 
Ameni coir in the market began steadily to decline. The 
total output also became yearly smaller, and from both these 
causes the revenue steadily shrank until as stated above in 
1895 there was a large deficit. 

It had been clearly seen for some years previously that 
energetic steps would have to be taken to improve the class of 
coir and increase the outturn if the islands were to continue 
to pay their way. Even so far back as 1869 Mr. H. S. 
Thomas had proposed to encourage the production of good 
coir by allowing the islanders a proportion (15 per cent) of the 
enhanced prices that would be obtained. The Board of 
Revenue preferred to give the islanders a fixed 25 per cent of 
the net profit in each year but Mr. Thomas objected that this 
would make the islanders' profits depend not upon their own 
industry but on economies in the administration. By 1873 it 
was seen that the enhanced prices were due not to improve- 
ments in manufacture but to a rise in the price of coir and 
the proposal was dropped. In 1873 Mr. Stokes foresaw the 
necessity of keeping the output at a figure sufficient to defray 
the cost of the administration and on his recommendation a 
fine was imposed if less than 674 candies were exported. In 



1891 Messrs. Morgan & Sons offered, if given a monopoly, 

to set up coir-spinning machinery on the islands and attempt 

by improved modern methods to improve both the quality and 

the quantity of island coir. Government refused to grant the G.O. No. 

monopoly on the ground that the proposal would too entirely lurch 

upset economic conditions on the islands and interfere too 1892. 

greatly with the islanders' principal means of livelihood. On G.o. No. 

Mr. Slight's report in 1894 Government sanctioned the re- ^g^ lS9 

introduction of the system of classification abandoned in 1837 

but there was some delay in actually making the change. Mr. 

Couchman who visited the islands in 1895 selected samples of 

what should be considered first, second and third-class coir- Classification 

Sealed samples were left on each island as a standard ; a reintrod « c ed. 

set was deposited in the Collector's office at Mangalore, and 

the new classification and new prices were to have been 

introduced with effect from 1896. The orders of Government 

however, as to prices had been misunderstood and the scheme ^ ' 10 £ 

did not come into force until 1898. All coir equal to or better January 

than Mr. Couchman's second-class sample was treated as first lS9t>- 

class and paid for at Rs. 21-I4-0 per candy all equal to or 

better than his third sample as second-class at Rs. 17-8-0, all 

below that as third class at Rs. 13-2-O, one-fouth of the price 

being paid as before in cash and three-fourths in rice. In 

addition, in order to encourage the manufacture of first-class 

coir and to give the producer a share in the profits, 25 per 

cent of the actual price realized in the market for first-class 

coir was to be added to the price paid for it. This, however, 

appears never to have been done. The classification was 

carried out by a special staff at Mangalore under the 

supervision of the Port Officer. 

One and a half maunds of salt were supplied free of tax for Duty iree 
every candy of coir. This privilege of importing salt free salt - 
was first granted in 1866 when I maund was allowed free for 
every candy of coir. It was then a valuable concession and 
is calculated to have cost Government between Rs. 700 and 
Rs. 800 per annum. With the reduction in the salt tax the 
value of the privilege was reduced, yet it was still prized 
and the Malabar islanders who did not participate, fre- 
quently petitioned to have the concession extended to them. 

The reintroduction of classification had at once some improvement 
effect. In 1896 it was found that almost all the coir imported 
was only equal to Mr. Couchman's third-class sample. There 
was a natural decrease at first in the quantity produced but 
under the efforts of successive Inspecting Officers and the 
Monegar the quality steadily improved up to a point. The 
amount of first-class coir never, however, again approached 

in coit. 

4 6 


On the 



Payments in 

Robinson IT 
P. 34' 

^ogan s 
eportj 1869. 

the percentage fixed in 1837. It is legitimate perhaps to 
suppose that the classification then was not so strict and that 
much of the so-called first-class coir was only equal to the pre- 
sent second-class. On the other hand it has to be remembered 
that the increased price given for better class coir did not 
reach the actual spinners as they were still paid by the boat 
owners in rice at the old mamul rates which prevailed before 
the system of classification was introduced, and the system 
therefore had only an indirect effect through the boat 
owners upon the spinners. In 1891 the average price obtained 
by Government for the coir was Rs. 38-15-O but already by 
1901 it had improved to Rs. 49-8 0. 

On the Malabar islands the history of the monopoly 
was rather different. Even after the revolt of the northern 
islands the system continued to be worked on the southern 
group with as much rigour as before. But with the death of 
Tippu there was no longer any rival to the Cannanore family 
upon whose protection the southern islanders could throw 
themselves, and the Bombay Government, although repeatedly 
appealed to and although they at first ordered the immediate 
surrender of the monopoly, found it impossible as already 
explained, to abolish the system. By 1869 a state of anarchy 
had been reached and it was only the attachment of the 
islands by Government in 1875 with the consequent ameliora- 
tion of the abuses in the system that prevented the islands 
from completely renouncing their allegiance to the Raja. 

The system of payment partly in cash and partly in rice 
did not prevail at first on the Malabar islands. Up to 1826 
the monopoly price had been Rs. 30 per candy paid entirely 
in rice at Rs. 2% per muda. Deducting the 20 per cent import 
duty at Cannanore upon the coir and on the islands upon the 
rice, this gave the islanders a clear 10% mudas of rice. In 
that year however the price of coir fell greatly and the price 
paid to the islanders was correspondingly reduced to 5% 
mudas ; as the cost of production was calculated to be 5^3 
mudas, the margin of profit to the islanders can have been 
almost nothing and it is little wonder that the monopoly came 
to be practically in abeyance. In consequence the Raja was 
forced in 1865 to raise the price to Rs. 20 and in 1869 he was 
prepared to pay Rs. 25. The Collector sought to induce him 
to raise it to Rs. 30, but he represented that he could not do 
so without serious loss although Government was at the time 
paying the equivalent of Rs. 35 for Amindivi coir and still 
realising a profit. Government determined in 1871 that, in 
view of the abuses of the system which, as then worked, 
was benefitting neither the Raja nor the islanders, they could 



not assist him to enforce the monopoly. Nor could it be G.o. No. 
expected that he would be able unaided to do so himself. 4°5> 
They advised him to abolish it of his own accord, and levy -^ji. 
the revenue in some less objectionable way. On the occasion 
of the next visit to the islands in 1873 (by Mr. Spedding) it 
was found that the Raja had taken no action whatever, affairs 
on the islands had grown steadily worse and there were 
besides large arrears of peshkash accumulating against the 
Raja which, in the absence of any receipts from the monopoly, 
he was unable to pay off. Partly to clear these arrears, but 
more particularly in order to introduce a better revenue system, 
Government attached the islands in 1875. Between 1874 and 
1877 Mr. Logan, the Collector oi Malabar, who had himself 
visited the islands in 1869, submitted different schemes for 
raising a revenue. His proposals, which entailed the abolition 
of the monopoly, were not accepted, but under the orders of 
the Board of Revenue (B.P. No. 490, dated 18th February 
1876) and for reasons which Mr. Logan had himself set out in 
his report of 1869, the prices paid were assimilated in 1876 to South Kan . ira 
those paid on the South Kanara islands, namely, Rs. 21-I4-O system 
per candy for first class, Rs. 17-8-9 for second class and a 'l°P te(1 - 
Rs. 13-2-0 for third-class coir, three-fourths of the price as on 
the South Kanara islands was to be paid for in rice and one- 
fourth in cash but no salt was issued free of tax. Thus the 
new system on the Malabar islands was deliberately copied 
from that prevailing on the northern islands. 

There was, however, some misunderstanding at first. It 
was thought that tbe whole price was to be paid in money, 
and in order to effect this a commutation rate was fixed each 
year at the price of rice prevailing in the market at the time. 
This commutation rate remained fixed during the coir season 
whether the market price of rice rose or fell. The mistake 
was rectified by Mr. Logan who for convenience rounded off 
the annas in the South Kanara prices and fixed the Malabar 
prices in whole rupees at Rs. 22 for first class, Rs. 18 for 
second and Rs. 14 for third. But a further modification was 
also made which does not seem to have been contemplated in 
the first instance and which did not prevail as regards the 
South Kanara islands. At the price of rice prevailing in 1877 w;th a 
it was found that the amount of rice and money paid was difference, 
in round figures for first-class coir 4 sacks of rice and Rs. 6, 
for second class 3% sacks and Rs. 4 and for third class G o No 7 
2% sacks and Rs. 3. These rates were introduced from 1st Pol.,' 23rd 
January 1878. Until 1905 the value of the fixed quantity of Feb - l88 °- 
rice was calculated and the whole price of the coir was paid 
in money. In that year, on the representation of the islanders 

4 8 


done by the Port officer at Calient T< 1 
made to suit th P ^ Calicut. Tms arrangement was 

iWiablv hL S C0 " Ven f lence of th e islanders who almost 
invariably had to go as f ar north as Mangalore before nrn 

pretr n r g ed°thet ir /r n t0 Islands a"d who " 

prelerred the South Kanara to the Malabar rice Th* f 

iberal rates which the islanders now received, was kept uo to 

G.o. No. the proposal, that a minimum outout of t cnn . S , upported 
3 ut -, - mated to produce a revenue of R ~ bT fitd ^li 
that boat owners should be fined for any deficiency bu 
Government d,d not agree to this, pointing out tha the fines 
would certainly not fall upon the real defaulters. n 7 9 o6 the 
outpu had declined still further, showing a drop o I 
cent from the figures of even four vears before When 
Questioned by Mr. Thomas, who visited the islands m thatTet 
the people attributed the fall to bad seasons for coconuts 

- sharing with then the dif^ce,^ £ tX ppe^ to 
have been that about that time the price of coconuts and 
copra rose enormously, and the people, who found they couM 
. realise high prices for these new commodities and thereby 
obtain sufficient money to support themselves with but little 
labour naturally declined to undertake the more laborious 
task of manufacturing coir merely to provide a revenue for 
Government. As a contributory cause it may be mentioned 
that the women upon whom the whole labour falls 
inducement to increase their toil because they knew that what- 
ever was obtained over and above that necessary to provide 
for the bare needs of the family would only be squandered bv 
their husbands while the boats were on the coast. Moreover 
the money portion of the price was appropriated by the bS 
owners on account of freightage and the rice was paid to the 
shippers at the same mamul rates which prevailed before he 
introduction of the sorting system. 6 



Further enquiries were instituted during the visits of 1907 G.o. No. 96, 
and 1908 as to the possibility of introducing some other means 1 ' eb " 
of raising a revenue for the Malabar islands, and, although it 
was decided that no change was desirable, the islanders G.O. No. 
were warned that if the revenue from the coir monopoly fell jj^ 2 '^*' 11 
some change would fiave to be made. The islanders are 
keenly alive to the benefits they derive from the monopoly 
and the warning had the desired effect. 

It will be seen, however, that the coir monopoly is not a An unstable 

. r . . . source ot 111- 

satisfactory source of revenue. 1 he amount it may produce come , 
depends upon three constantly changing factors: the amount 
of coir produced by the islanders, its market price, and the 
market price of rice, andean never be forecasted. Nor is there 
any guarantee that it will in any year be sufficient to meet the 
expenses of the administration. For these reasons proposals 
have been made from time to time for its abolition on both 
groups. So long ago as 1835 Mr. Cotton had recommended a 
change of system on the northern group but the proposal was its abolition 
strongly opposed by the islanders themselves and it came P r0 P° se <] for 

. , . , „ the Amin- 

early to be recognised that as enforced b3 r the Hon. Company divis. 
and afterwards by Government the monopoly was not only 
not oppressive but actually highly beneficial to the people. 
In 1846 Sir W. Robinson after his inspection put forward Robinson. I, 
some forcible arguments in favour of maintaining the mono- P - 47- 
poly. He pointed out that the tax imposed by it was extremely 
light, representing not more than one-sixth of the produce of a 
tree, and was paid indirectly by the barter of surplus produce sir \v. Rohir,- 
for rice, while Government participated directly and by an son contra - 
automatic process in any failure of crop. His opinion was 
that if left to dispose of the coir themselves, the people would 
experience great difficulty in finding a market and would find 
it quite impossible to watch the market and dispose of their 
coir to the best advantage. He considered various alter- 
natives : a system of export or import duties, which he rejected 
as liable to lead to illicit trade : some scheme of assessment 
levied on trees, which seemed to him impossible, as each 
man's trees were scattered, and far too complicated to be 
worked with the existing staff : or some system of islandwar 
assessment paid by one responsible person and levied by him 
from individuals, which he also rejected as almost certain to 
lead to oppression and injustice. In 1873 Mr. (now Sir) subsequent 
G. Stokes again proposed the abolition of the monopoly, but opinions, 
his recommendation was not accepted and the opinion of all ^ithM.^^ 7 ' 
Inspecting Officers for the South Kanara islands since that 1874. 
date has been strongly in favour of a continuance of the 




Sir W.Robin- The fact that on the Malabar islands the monopoly was 
itTabolftio" enforced by the Raja entirely altered its effect upon the 
on the Mala- people. In 1847 Sir W. Robinson was compelled to argue as 
bar islands. strongly for its abolition on these islands as he had the year 
before urged its retention on the Amindivi islands while the 
people themselves never ceased to cry out against its iniqui- 
ties until the islands were finally attached in 1875. As already 
stated the main object of the attachment was to introduce 
some other system and it was decided that the islands, should 
not be restored until some other means of raising the revenue 
had been found, as even from his own point of view the Raja 
could hardly be expected to remain content with the uncertain 
proceeds of the monopoly and could not afford to balance the 
lean years with the fat as Government might do. 
M r . Logan's Mr. Logan, who as Special Assistant Collector visited the 
earliest islands in 1869, reported strongly against the monopoly and 

sc emes. recommended the substitution of either a poll tax or a land 
tax* Mr. Macgregor, the then Collector of Malabar, objected 
G.O. No. 405, to both proposals, to the first on the score that it would be 
Dec' 1%^ impossible to check abuses, and to the second on the grounds 
ec ' ?I ' that it would entail the introduction of a regular survey and 
settlement and the consequent raising of difficult questions of 
ownership, and that it was quite unworkable with the existing 
establishment. In the alternative he suggested a moderate 
export duty, either on coir only, or else, if necessary, on all 
produce of the coconut and on all other monopoly products. 
Government, while acquiescing in the necessity of abolishing 
the monopoly, found legal objections to the Collector's pro- 
posal and suggested that the Raja might be induced to accept 
a fixed annual payment in coir which might be revised every 
ten years, in lieu of the monopoly. When the question next 
came up, on the inspection of the islands by Mr. Spedding in 
1873, Mr. Logan was Collector of Malabar. It had been found 
G.O. No. 1C7, impossible to persuade the Raja to accept the Government's 
Feb" i| th proposal and in advising upon the next step to be taken 
e '' Mr. Logan represented the difficulty of distributing among the 

people the fixed amount to be paid to the Raja. He recom- 
mended Mr. Macgregor's scheme for imposing an export duty 
on coir and other products of the coconut. He calculated the 
Monopoly to " jamma " payable by the Raja on Cannanore, the four Malabar 
be replaced islands and Minicoy to be Rs. 9,750 (Rs. 15,000 peshkash less 
duty." expon Rs. 5,250 payable for the South Kanara islands) and as it had 

* Mr. Logan, however, explained subsequently that his report was misunder- 
stood and that he had never any intention of recommending a land tax (vide his 
letter No. 41, dated 15th May 1873, printed in G.O. No. 107, Pol., dated 17th 
February 1875). 

Administration and revenue 


been agreed between the Bibi and the Malabar Commissioners 
in 1793 that the jamma should be " a moiety of whatever is or 
shall be ascertained to be the produce of her country," it 
followed that the total revenue to be raised was Rs. 19,500. 
Rs. 3,800 being the sum already fixed as the jamma for 
Cannanore, Rs. 7,600 would be raised for the Cannanore lands 
and the balance Rs. 11,900 would be the amount to be levied 
upon the Malabar Laccadives and Minicoy.. Assuming that 
Government would impose a tax of one-sixth of all coconut 
produce, Mr. Logan calculated that the four northern Malabar 
islands would contribute Rs. 9,500, while the balance of 
Rs. 2,400 would be levied upon Minicoy. The Raja's revenue 
from the islands would then be his "moiety" Rs. 9,750, to- 
gether with the rents of his private land on the islands. 

Mr. Logan's first proposal was that the tax should be levied 
in kind at the port of import. Subsequently in his letter 
No. 319, dated 25th December 1876, he modified this and G.O.N0.416, 
advised payment in cash as he feared Government would be PoL - 2ad 
unable to sell to advantage the small quantities of the different ^ uly l877 ' 
commodities which they would receive under the other pro- 
posal. He added calculations to show that assuming that the 
islanders should pay a tax of Rs. I -8-0 per head, equal to the 
incidence of land assessment per head in the Presidency, ,. ' 
a tax of 8 per cent on the total coconut exports would 
yield the required amount from the Malabar Laccadives, 
while there would be no necessity to extend the scheme to 
Minicoy which had yielded an income of Rs. 7,000. No 
orders were passed on either proposal till 2nd July 1877 and by 
that time Government had altered their opinion as to the 
advisability of abolishing the monopoly. In their order 
No. 416 of that date they decided that further experience 
must be gained before any final orders could be issued and 
they remained of opinion that the enforcement of any export 
duty at the port of import would be illegal. Mr. Logan, how- 
ever, was so impressed with the urgent necessity for some 28th Nov', 
change that he brought the matter up again before the in- ^in- 
spection of 1877, but Government telegraphed their refusal. 
Again in his Administration Report for fasli 1286-87 (vide his 
letter No. 46, dated loth March 1879) he urged that he might 
be allowed to introduce his system at least tentatively on 
Androth, with the further modification that the duty should 1 
be levied on the island itself. Government gave way so far 
as to permit the proposed experiment and asked Mr. Logan to 
report the particulars of his scheme, but at the same time 
declared that the total abolition of the monopoly was a 0.0. No. 721, 
measure to which they had always been opposed. Before Febfi88o. 

CO. No. 662, 



G.O. No. 569, proceeding on leave Mr. Logan drew up a note showing the 
14th Dec. proposed arrangements for an export duty to be introduced 


as an experiment upon Androth on his return. He calculated 
that out of the total of Rs. 11,900 to be levied upon all the 
Laccadives the share of Androth would be Rs. 2,975 ar, d, 
assuming that this should be net revenue, added establish- 
ment and other charges which brought the total sum to be 
raised to Rs. 3,800. Deducting the rents (Rs. [,003) of the 
Raja's private land, which Mr. Logan now proposed to regard 
as part of the revenue, the balance actually leviable was 
Rs. 2,797. The total exports of coconut produce from Androth 
were valued at about Rs. 36,549 a duty of 7% per cent upon 
which would produce the required revenue. Government 
however in reviewing the scheme reverted to their former 
opinion that " some arrangement under which a certain 
amount of coir would be received in kind and sold on behalf 
of Government would be more in accordance with principle 
in a rude society of the kind." The Inspecting Officer of that 
year (Mr. Underwood) was ordered to report on the suggestion 
but he had already sailed for the islands before the Govern- 
ment Order was issued. Under the circumstances the Board of 

The proposal Revenue (in Board's Proceedings No. 39, dated 6th January 

shelved. 1893) ln their review of Mr. Underwood's report, approved of 
Mr. Logan's scheme and seemed to take for granted that it was 
being introduced. Mr. Logan however had not returned to 
Malabar and the new scheme was not put into force. His 
successor, Mr. Dalton directed Mr. Tate, the Inspecting Officer 

G.O. No. 292, of 1884, to report upon both it and the Government's proposal. 

Pol., 4th Mr. Tate found the people strongly opposed to any change, 

May 1886. ^ ^ re ason that under the monopoly system they had no 
trouble in disposing of their coir quickly and at a fixed price, 
while if they had to sell it themselves in open market they 
would probably be cheated by the merchants and would have 
to take any price that might be ruling at the time, as they 
could not afford to wait on the mainland for a rise, and thus 

Mr. Tate might often have to accept prices far below a subsistence rate. 

reports He pointed out several practical difficulties in applying Mr. 

a PVl st Logan's scheme and expressed himself opposed to any 

abolition. a . . 

change. Mr. Dalton in his covering letter agreed that there 
was no advantage in altering the existing system and obser- 
ved that its previous unpopularity among the islanders had 
been due solely to the malpractices rife in the Raja's time, 
Government which under the management of Government officials had 
agree. been completely removed. Government in their order ex- 

pressed themselves convinced that the continuance of the 
monopoly system was desirable. Thus Malabar officials and 



the islanders themselves came gradually to hold the same 
views upon the beneficial effects of the monopoly, when 
administered by Government, as the South Kanara officials, 
who had only seen it so administered, had entertained from 
the first. Even Mr. Logan, the strongest advocate of change, 
seems only to have urged it because he clearly realised that G.o. No. 416, 
the monopoly could not be retained if the islands were again j^ 1 ,',^ 
to be handed back to the Raja. It was the necessity for find- * 
ing some alternative source of revenue as little open to abuse 
as possible, against the time when the attachment of the 
islands should cease, that had been ever present to his mind. 
He returned to Malabar at the end of 1884 and at once set 
about formulating afresh scheme which he embodied in a B.P.No. 472, 
letter to the Board. Mr. Logan urged that though the mono- "tii Feb. 
poly might suit the islanders and be workable so long as the 
islands were administered by Government, to whom tempo- 
rary losses were immaterial, it must be a failure when worked 
by the Raja who could not afford to lose in bad years on the Mr. i.ogan 
chance of being recouped in good ones, an inability on his *f ai ," " tges 

0 0 ' J abolition. 

part which must prove fatal to the fair and equitable adminis- 
tration of the monopoly. Mr. Logan's new proposal was 
nothing less than a land assessment to be paid in coir, based 
upon a complete survey and providing for 5 different classes 
of land, but skilfully combining also the provisions of the And proposes 
improving leases under which the Raja's private lands were a land assess- 
held. Mr. Logan claimed that his new scheme was in fact ment ' 
the very arrangements approved by Government in 1881 
" under which a certain amount of coir would be received in 
kind and sold for Government account" but it is hardly 
necessary to point out that Government then had objected to 
a regular land assessment and that their proposal of that date 
had been quite different. Government however agreed to the g.o. No. 748, 
scheme and ordered that it should be carried into effect as Po! -> z8th 
early as possible. Mr. Logan himself was to visit the islands ° ct ' l8§5 ' 
in March 1886 and introduce his scheme. But once more cir- 
cumstances prevented the introduction of any change. No 
steamer could be obtained to take the Inspection party to the 
islands that year, and in 1887 only hurried visits could be Frustrated by 
paid to restore order on Minicoy. In 1888 Mr. Logan had left circumstac- 
Malabar and his successor Mr. Winterbotham expressed him- Letter No. 
self opposed to any change, which would be particularly in- 4057, 1 
vidious just then, when Government were losing on the mono- Mr^imer- 
poly owing to a fall in the price of coir. He pointed cut that botham 
if it was still supposed that a scheme was being matured which °£ p °tf* n 
would enable the Cannanore family to resume the govern- 
ment, they were really as far from the goal as ever. He did not 



believe that any system could be invented which the Raja, 
however good his intentions, could carry on, and he thought 
the best course was to tell him once and for all that he must 
give up his sovereignty and then to carry on the existing 
arrangements. This letter did not reach Government through 
the Board until March 1889 and they deferred passing orders 
on it until after Mr. Twigg's inspection of the islands in that 
And Govern- year. Mr. Twigg's report confirmed Mr. Winterbotham in 
G^ON 0**229 the views he had expressed, and Government concurred that 
Pol., nth ' any idea of abolishing the monopoly against the will of the 
May 1889. islanders must for some time to come be abandoned. 

reopened' 10 " The Question was dropped from that time until in 1907 
1907. Mr. Knapp suggested that the Inspecting Officer of that year 

should make special enquiry, in view of the steady decrease 
in revenue, whether the islanders would not prefer to pay a 
tree-tax in place of the monopoly. Mr. Lancashire, the 
Inspecting Officer for 1907 accordingly investigated the whole 
G.O. No. 96, system. As a result he formed the opinion that any change 
Feb' 1909 was most undesirable, giving as his main reason the fact that 
the islanders would be quite unable to watch the market and 
Further hold out for higher prices and would be entirely in the power 
reasons ^ t ^ merchants. He drew attention to the amount of coir 


abolition that had to be held over by Government from one year to 
reported. another in order to secure a good price. To take only the ten 
preceding years, in fasli 1308 nearly one-third, in fasli 1310 
about half, in fasli 1311 one-third, in fasli 1315 one-fourth, 
and in fasli 1316 again one third had thus to be held over. 
The conclusions then arrived at were confirmed during the 
inspection of 1908 and it was pointed out in the report for 
that year that while the cost price of second-class coir was 
Rs. 39, the average highest selling price for ten years had been 
only Rs. 39--II-7 while the average lowest selling price was 
Rs. 34-14-0 and the lowest price accepted Rs. 30, or Rs. 9 less 
than Government was paying the islanders. It seemed almost 
certain that if left to trade for themselves the islanders would 
be forced to accept even lower prices. It was suggested that 
G 0 if an increase of revenue was considered absolutely necessary, 

No. 18S2, an export tax of 5 per cent on the lines of Mr. Logan's 
July '1909" proposal, levied at the port of import, might be imposed and 
would produce roughly about Rs. 8,000 but that the coir 
monopoly, which it was pointed out was really no tax at all, 
must in any eventuality be retained in the interests of the 
people. Government in their order on the report decided that 
no change was called for. The result, however, of the 
European war, coupled with the poor harvests in 1918 and 
1919, was to raise the price of rice to an abnormal height 


while the price of coir was not proportionately so much 
affected. In consequence, from 1916 onwards the monopoly 
resulted in very large deficits for both groups. Government 
decided to refrain from making any changes while conditions 
were so adverse for the islanders. In 1920 when prices had 
returned to a more normal level the whole question was once 
again examined by the Inspecting Officer.' It was urged that 
in the interests of the islanders the monopoly must be 
retained but proposals were submitted for abolishing the 
classification, altering the method of payment to one purely 
in rice at the rate of 3?> thulams of coir per muda of rice, the 
payments in money and the free issue of salt being dropped 
altogether. To stimulate production it was also proposed 
that the monigar and amins should buy coir for rice on the 
islands direct from the spinners at a slightly higher rate of 4 
thulams per muda. These proposals have been sanctioned and The 1922 
are now (1922) being introduced on all the islands, with the ^ C Q me ' 
further modification that all the coir is being purchased on the n' 0 1321, 
islands themselves. It is hoped that this arrangement for Kev -> 
taking over all the coir on the islands will relieve the poorer " ul> I922 ' 
classes, at least so far as rice is concerned, from their 
oppressive dealings with the boat owners, and will also greatly 
stimulate production, as every twister can without difficulty 
or delay get rice on the island itself in return for her coir. 
Government have also under contemplation the possibility of 
raising some revenue from the islands from some other source. 

The Cannanore family appears to have had at first no Pandaram 
private property on the islands. The Raja never at any time Reilts - 
advanced any claims of overlordship over the lands in the 
occupation of the people and these lands or rather the trees 
upon them (for the idea of property in the land itself seems to 
be of recent growth) were always treated as the absolute 
property of the islanders. But about 100 years after the 
Cannanore Rajas came into the possession of the islands they 
began to assume the unoccupied lands on the inhabited 
islands and the entire area of the uninhabited islands. 
These lands, the private property of the Cannanore Pandaram 
or Government have come to be known as Pandaram lands in 
distinction from the people's private property. 

Sir W. Robinson found the process of assumption still in The Kaja's 

progress in 1847 on the inhabited islands. The Pandaram claims onl >' 

claims were then only fully admitted in respect of the 

plantations and waste land on Androth and Kalpeni. p°^" s ° n U ' 

Attempts were being made to assume the lands on Kavarathi Pandarams 

and about 20 years before a strip 40 kols wide all alone the ^ avara - 

.... ., - , . b thi how 

shore had been summarily confiscated. This strip round acquired, 



Robinson II, the shore constitutes what have since been known as the 
' • Chuttu Ka raima lands. The Pandaram's claims to them 

were relinquished in 1870. In the years subsequent to 1847 
every opportunity to secure land was availed of. Much was 
wrongfully declared escheat and cases are reported in which 
the Raja settled disputes as to property by himself appro- 
priating it. In some such way may have been acquired the 
small blocks of Pandaram lands scattered among the private 
lands on Kavarathi and known as the " Nattagathu Karaima." 
The present Idiyakkal Pandaram lands on Kavarathi were 
taken under management possibly about 1850 for debts due to 
the Pandaram and leased back to the owner, a member of the 
Idiyakkal family, but finally confiscated and rented to the 
highest bidder, although the profits of the management must 
have more than cleared the debt. A wall, the remains of 
which are still visible, was built across Kavarathi just south 
of the village and no islander was allowed to cross it into the 
southern portion, which is in consequence even now known as 
the Pandaram Pak (forbidden ground). The land immediately 
south of the wall is known as the "Padhi Padhi." The 
plantations on it appear to have been made by the people 
themselves at a time when the Pandaram lands were left in 
their management, a fixed rental only being demanded. 
Subsequently when the Pandaram lands were resumed, the 
people were allowed to retain these plantations, the Pandaram 
taking half the produce as rent, and hence their name. The 
remainder of the Pandaram Pak was waste at the date of Sir 
W. Robinson's visit, with the exception of five plantations 
made by the Raja's Kariyakars, whose names two of them 
now bear (Ali Mussa Valappu and Hussein Kariyakar 

By 1869 the Pandaram's claims to these lands seem to 
have become fully established, for Mr. Logan in his report for 
that year does not mention any rival claims being put forward. 
In the years of anarchy that followed it is remarkable to find 
that the Pandaram lands were nearly always respected and 
that few attempts to encroach upon or appropriate them were 

Nothing is known as to the history of the Pandaram lands 
other than those mentioned above. 
Disposal of On the South Kanara islands Government from the 

Government commencement adopted the very liberal policy of distributing 
Amn\divis. tne Pandaram trees and such other trees as have subsequently 
by escheat come into their possession, among poor and 
deserving islanders. The undistributed balance is leased 
out by the monigar annually but, is always available for 



distribution. Until recently the monigar was also required to 
plant sufficient young trees each year to ensure a supply for 
future distributions, but Government have now ordered that 
new planting should be stopped and in a few years all the 
trees available will either have been distributed or will have 
gone out of bearing. 

On the Malabar islands, the Pandaram lands, being the 
private property of the Rajas, had to be retained and managed 
to the best possible advantage. Beyond plucking the nuts 
more or less irregularly, the Kariyakars had paid little atten- 
tion to these properties and had entirely neglected replanting 
so that when the islands came under attachment the number 
of trees had seriously diminished compared with the number 
reported by Sir W. Robinson. Mr. Logan turned his 
attention to this branch of the administration. Although 
of opinion that the waste lands could not be the private 
property of the Raja, as the idea of property in land ^ p ol °' 
was quite unknown on the islands, he saw clearly that it 23rd Feb. 
would be impossible to leave them ownerless for any one l8So - 
who pleased to grab and he decided that the only alterna- 
tive was to view them as the "crown property" of the Disposal of 
Arakal family and to lease them out as such. His distinction £^ * r * m 
between private and crown property may in the circumstances the Maia- 
seem somewhat fine, but his conclusion was eminently wise. bar i slan(,s - 
In consultation with Mr. Winterbotham who visited the 
islands in that year (1878) a scheme for granting the lands on 
improving leases or cowles was drawn up. It necessitated in ^s e r ° ving 
the first instance a survey of all the Pandaram lands on the 
islands and the division of them into suitable plots. Then an 
inspection had to be made of each plot and the number of 
trees in the different stages of growth, phalam (bearing), 
aphalam (out of bearing), maram (young tree not yet in full 
bearing), kili (plant), thei (seedling), had to be recorded. A 
form of lease was drawn up which provided for the immediate 
payment of assessment uponall bearing trees and for necessary 
changes in assessment each year as the young trees, as ascer- 
tained at the inspection, came into bearing (paragraph I (a), (b), 
(c) of lease). No assessment was to be paid until after a fixed 
term of years upon trees planted by the lessee himself sub- 
sequent to the grant and, it was provided that under the orders 
of the Collector future paimashes might be made at intervals 
or after the destruction of trees by any serious calamity, and 
the assessment enhanced or lowered accordingly. The 
lessee was secured in possession for 40 years, subject to 
regular payment of assessment but could claim no compensa- 
tion for improvements, such as buildings. It is evident 



however that from the first it was intended that the leases 
should run in perpetuity, although to meet exceptional circum- 
stances this saving clause was entered. In 1883 the Board and 
Government seem to have contemplated the ultimate establish- 
ment through the leases of a property in land, in the cowle 
plots themselves first, to be extended afterwards to the whole 
area of the islands. It is interesting to note that time has as 
yet failed to induce much sense of possession over the land in 
even the cowle plots. 

The Inspecting Officers of the years immediately following 
the introduction of the cowles, were chiefly occupied in the 
laborious task of surveying and paimashing the Pandaram 
Survey of property preliminary to leasing it out to the islanders. It was 
Pandaram impossible to do more than a portion at each visit. A 
property. commencement was made by Mr. Winterbotham in 1878. 

Something more was done by Mr. V. A. Brodie in 1880. The 
work was carried on by Mr. Underwood in 1882 and finally 
completed by Mr. Tate in 1884. Minor alterations were intro- 
duced into the conditions of the lease by each officer, and as 
it was thought desirable that all leases should be on uniform 
terms the matter was reported to Government and after some 
r , ,-, „ discussion an amended form was finally approved in 188S. 

(j. L>. ]\u. . . -hi t 1 

748, Pol., The conditions remained practically the same but the power 

28th Oct. t0 surrender at one year's notice was added. 

Government ordered the abolition of the sharing system on 
the Padhi Padhi lands in 1873, but their instructions were 
G.O. No. misunderstood and it was not until 1891 that the leases of 
150, Pol., these lands were assimilated to the other Pandaram leases, 
18*.' L ' by Mr. Dumergue who allowed a concession of 20 years' free- 
dom from assessment on trees planted by the cowledars 
themselves and imposed a rental of only 10 palams per tree 
compared with 1 5 palams, the rent under other cowles. 

Cowles are still issued in the form sanctioned in 1885, but 
the terms under which the plots are actually held have since 
been modified in practice. The changes cannot be traced in 
the printed reports and it does not seem that they have ever 
been formally sanctioned. The paimashes have come to be 
made once in every twelve years. No use is now made of the 
first clause in the cowle to secure the assessment of young- 
trees as they come into bearing. Instead, the assessment is 
imposed upon trees in bearing at the date of the paimash 
and is considered fixed and unalterable until the next 
paimash comes round. No reduction of assessment is granted 
except for the loss of trees by storm, lightning or other 
original calamity. The present arrangement has the advantage over 


in the 



the old one of simplicity and is accepted by the people as a 
fair one. 

The land was eagerly taken up during the years 1878 — 
[884 and on Androth and Kalpeni planting proceeded rapidly 
so that now there is no jungle and almost no land left waste- 
But on the other islands the indolence of the cowledars who 
are mainly owners of a large number of private trees has pre- 
vented them from taking advantage of the benefits offered by 
the cowles. The period during which no assessment was to 
be charged .has long since expired, yet in most cases little 
fresh planting has been done, and the number of trees is 
actually less than it was when the cowles were first granted. 
Kavarathi is the worst island in this respect. In 1847 there 
were 18,000 trees in the Padhi Padhi lands: in 1878 only 6,700, 
but in 1889 the number had fallen to 1,800. The consequent 
loss to the revenue is considerable. It was decided in 1908 
and 1909 to attempt to improve matters in the interests both 
of Government and of the people by a system of mild 
coercion. The cowle lands on Kavarathi and Agathi were 
inspected, the number of trees that should be planted on the 
unplanted portions was calculated and lists showing how 
many trees each cowledar had to plant during the following 
year were given to the Amin with the warning that those who 
failed to plant the required number would be fined at the rate 
of Re. I for every 50 theis not planted. In a few instances only 
was the measure productive of some good. The greater por- 
tion of the land remains unplanted as before. As a result of 
the inspection of 1920 it was suggested that in those cases 
where half the number of trees has not been planted, the 
cowles should be cancelled and the available land given to 
deserving islanders of the poorer class who would be more 
likely to make a good use of it. This proposal was approved 
by Government and was carried out during the inspection of 
1922, some 28 plots being granted on fresh cowles on Kava- 

The annual income derived from cowles is now about 
Rs. 5,500. 

The uninhabited islands are Bitra, in the Amindivi Group, 
the two islets Valiyakara and Cheriyakara in the Suheli reef, 
Kalpitti, a small islet south of Agathi and within the same 
lagoon, and Bangaram Tinnakara and Parli, three islets in a 
lagoon about five miles north of Agathi, and Pitti, a mere 
sandbank belonging to the Malabar islands. 

The Suheli islets belonged originally to the people of 
Kavarathi to whom the fisheries and cowry banks on the 
shoal were a valuable possession. They were confiscated by 

failure of 
the scheme. 

coer cion. 

The uninha- 
bited islands. 



the Raja in 1765 in punishment of a suspected conspiracy and 
the murder of Hussein Kariyakar, the Raja's agent. Similarly 
the valuable fisheries of the Bangaram reef belonged to the 
people of Agathi but were confiscated in 1764 in punishment 
for the murder of an accountant who rendered himself 
obnoxious to the people by introducing the new monopolies. 
The other islands appear to have been recognised as 
Pandaram property from the earliest times. 
Underthe These islands were strictly preserved by the Raja's Agents, 

Rajas. no one being allowed ever to fish in the lagoons without 

permission or unaccompanied by a nadpal (peon). The nuts 
were collected intermittently by the Kariyakars on behalf of 
Robinson II, the Raja. The system was continued on the Malabar islands 
P- 7 J - during the first few years of the attachment. Mr. Logan 

proposed in 1878 to introduce the cowle system upon the 
uninhabited islands also but this was not done. In 1880 Mr. 
Brodie proposed that the well planted islands, Bangaram 
Tinnakara and Parli should be eventually cleared of the dense 
jungle with which they were, and still are, covered, and leased 
out in blocks to the Agathi islanders. Meanwhile, as this 
Leased scheme would take time, he leased the islands provisionally 
provisionally. f or t h ree y ears to three Agathi men. At the same time, he also 
leased theSuheli islets pending the establishment of a colony 
A settlement from Kavarathi upon them. A previous attempt, made by Sir W. 
on Suheli. Robinson to settle upon Suheli some of the people left destitute 
after the great storm of 1846, failed owing to the impossibility 
of finding good water upon the islets, and for the same reason 
the people who offered to colonise them in 1880 also withdrew 
and refused to live on the islands but were prepared to take 
up land there. The system of leasing the islands was thus 
for one reason or another continued. Mr. Dumergue leased 
the Bangaram group in 1891 for 20 years, to the Agathi Amin 
for Rs. 1,000 with a condition that 500 theis should be planted 
annually. He also rented out Kalpitti for 20 years and 
allowed the previous lease of Suheli to continue. In 1892 
the lease of Suheli was put up to public auction. In 1904 the 
Agathi Amin surrendered his lease of Bangaram and it was 

„, . , , put up for public auction for five years, with a condition 

The islands 1 . , r ^ ■ 1 r , ■ 

regularly securing the planting of a certain number of theis each year. 

leased. These terms^ave now been extended to all the islands. The 

leases are auctioned for five years and the purchaser binds 

himself to plant a stipulated number of theis during the period 

of his lease. 

At the last auction for the lease 1920 — 25, Bangara Tinna- 
kara and Parli fetched Rs. 2,745 per annum while Suheli for 
the same period realized Rs. 1,505. Pitti is only a sandbank. 



It has been leased out since 1912 to the Gumastham of Kava- 
rathi on an annual rent of Re. I but so far he has not succeeded 
in getting any coconut plants to grow upon the island. 
They have either been eaten away by crabs or pulled up by 
islanders visiting the spot. 

A proposal was made to lease Bitra in 1870 but was Bitra. 
objected to by the people who feared interference with their 
rights of fishing and of using certain communal trees. The 
island was, however, subsequently leased but only fetches 
about Rs. II per annum. An attempt was made between 1908 
and 1912 to settle two families from Chetlat upon the island. 
Fifty trees were assigned to each, but the experiment failed. 

The South Kanara islanders in 1895 claimed the right of South Kanara 
fishing off the uninhabited Malabar islands and subsequently 1 f laml "*. 

0 ^ J claim fishing 

the Malabar islanders claimed the right of fishing at Bitra. The rights. 

Collector of Malabar pointed out that there were difficulties in 

the way of allowing free fishing rights as the islands were 

leased out, while the right was mainly claimed for the object 

of plundering nuts, but at the same time he promised that 

South Kanara islanders should be given the same facilities as 

the Malabar islanders. In order to protect the renters, fishing 

passes were introduced. These were granted by the Amins 

of Agathi and Kavarathi who searched the boats on their 

return. This system, however, proved ineffectual to stop G0 No 

plundering and the renters suffered. The matter was enquired 348, Pol., 8th 

into in 1904. It was demonstrated that the sole object of the J une It)0 5- 

Ameni islanders in visiting the Malabar islands was to steal 

nuts, as the different shoals of their own group provided far 

superior fishing. It was decided in consequence to prohibit 

them altogether from fishing at either Suheli or Bangaram. 

Fishing passes continue to be granted by the Amins to their 

own islanders over whom there is naturally greater control. 

It has been already stated that the Rajas placed a mono- Lesser mono- 
poly upon all the produce of the islands. Upon the very polies. 
strong recommendations made by Sir W. Robinson, coconuts, 
morinda citron, limes, holothuria, salt and tobacco were 
released from the monopoly in 1859, but the monopolies upon 
tortoise-shell, ambergris, and cowries remained, and were 
continued by Government until recent years upon the Malabar 
islands. On the South Kanara islands the only monopoly 
was upon ambergris. It was found that the tortoise-shell and 
ambergris monopolies realized nothing at all in most years 
and only encouraged a system of smuggling, especially in the 
case of tortoise-shell which was not a monopoly upon the 
South Kanara islands. Recommendations to abolish them 
were made for many years and this was finally done in 1909 p 0 L, 2oth 96 



G.O. No. 
2855 Rev. . 
30th Aug. 

Robinson I, 
p. 40. 

Robinson 1 1 , 
p. 40. 


The atlara. 

Attiri pattom. 

so far as the Malabar islands were concerned. The ambergris 
monopoly upon the South Kanara islands followed in 19IO. 

The cowry monopoly was also abolished in 1910. Under 
the Rajas, it had been a source of considerable profit. Two 
seers of rice were, until 1826, paid for every seer of cowries; 
after that the price was reduced to one seer, and the consequent 
profits must have been nearly 400 per cent. The supply was 
not left to chance and if a sufficient quantity was not brought 
in voluntarily the people were forced to go out and gather. In 
this way the annual supply was maintained at from 10 to 12 
candies. After the attachment of the islands, the price was 
fixed at 4 annas per seer. From that time the monopoly 
declined. Except on Kalpeni the supply seems to have de- 
creased and it became impossible to gather the shells without 
an amount of labour out of proportion to the price paid. Al 
the same time the market price and the demand steadily 
declined until eventually it was almost impossible to find a 
sale for even the small quantities brought in. In these circum- 
stances this monopoly also was abolished. 

The fiscal system on Minicoy is rather different. Except 
the land occupied by the village and a very small extent near 
it, the whole island was regarc* ;d as the Raja's jenmam pro- 
perty. In consequence no /jbnopolies upon any of the 
produce of the island were'JWr imposed. The Pandaram 
Pak was strictly preserved, the islanders were forbidden 
practically the whole island except the small portion near the 
village, which was leased out on Valiya pattom, and were 
cooped up within the village itself. They paid a poll tax 
(allara) of 20 lb. coir per man per head and of 5 lb. coir per 
head per woman, but the higher and richest class the Mali- 
khans, one married woman in each family, all unmarried 
persons and toddy drawers were exempt. The tax was 
assessed by the Mukris. The allara is still levied and realizes 
between Rs. 500 and Rs. 800 per annum. It is now paid in 
cash at the rate of 12 annas on a married couple, 6 annas on an 
unmarried man and 4 annas on an unmarried woman. 

Taxes which only yielded petty sums were imposed upon 
the m^s boats and upon vessels trading with Bengal. These 
were abolished in 1892. 

The lands held under Valiya pattom yield about Rs. 750. 
They are all held by a few Malikhans. The poorer people 
were allowed to cultivate the Attiri (sea-shore) Pandaram, a 
small strip on the western shore, north of the village, and 
paid a rent of 4 annas per tree (Attiri pattom). The Attiri 
land was not divided among them or demarcated in any way. 
As on the other islands, property consisted only of the trees 



and a man might plant a tree where he pleased on vacant 
ground in the Attiri Pandaram, subject only to payment of 
the assessment when the tree came into bearing. The vil- 
lagers also possessed a little freehold land close to the village, 
the trees upon which paid no tax. The greater portion of the 
Raja's income was derived from the produce of the coconuts 
on the remainder of the island. The number of nuts collected 
varied with the season from a few thousand to one or two 
lakhs. The nuts in the Raja's time were only collected 
monthly after they had fallen to the ground. The fibre derived 
from nuts thus left to ripen and drop is coarser and poorer 
than if the nuts are plucked at the proper time, and the prac- 
tice for many years now has been to pluck them. The people 
were remunerated in coconuts at a mamul rate for their labour 
in picking. The old mamuls with slight differences were paid 
until the new lease introduced by Mr. Innes and were as 
follows : — 

Of every 124 nuts plucked, 20 were given to the Melacheri 
who plucked and 4 to the woman at the foot of the tree who 
gathered. Four nuts in addition were given to every man and 
woman for attending the plucking and six nuts if they also 
helped to carry the nuts to the cutcherry. Two Malikhans 
and two Malmis who were bound to attend to see that 
accounts were properly kept and that there was no stealing 
received 50 coconuts each. One or two Melacheri muppans 
or headmen might be present and would get 25 nuts each. 
If any nuts could not be carried to the cutcherry the same 
day, the men who were left to guard got 18 nuts each. When 
the nuts were taken by boat to the cutcherry each boatman 
got 14 to 18 nuts according to the distance. The Amin and 
gumasthan got 100 nuts each month in which plucking took 
place while the peons got 25 each. The persons who husked 
the nuts got 8 nuts per day and 4 nuts for every 100 husked. 
The steersmen who counted the nuts as they were loaded on to 
the " Odi " received 12 nuts each while the Odi Malmi (Cap- 
tain) and another Malmi who supervised them received 50 nuts 
each. Rs. 2 to 2% per thousand nuts was paid to the Odi 
owners as freightage. Out of the proceeds of the collections 
certain mamul religious charges amounting to 4,875 nuts had 
to be met. 

Mr. Logan proposed to introduce his " improving leases " 
on Minicoy also. Owing, however, to the time occupied in 
surveying and leasing the other islands the work on Minicoy 
could not be taken until Mr. Underwood's visit in 1882. He 
divided the islands into nine blocks, and he granted cowles for 
the Attiri Pandaram and the lands held on Valiya pattom. 

The Big 
South Pa nda. 

Mamuls for 

of cowles. 


fcktion. . rt ™ as the subsequent attempt of Mr n.n • oo 

Plete the work and to give out roll \ , " 1887 l ° COm " 
which led to the serious^istSL^! 1 ! 8 ,/", 1116 b '' g Panda -m 


New pj ant 

which led to the serious 5 hstu^ncl 

Proposal to extend the cowle sy st em , n f I The 
quence wisely dropped and ' the o d Trran ^ 
to continue. But the system w ™ / men * Were aI1 °wed 
share of the pluckingswhkh Go^" ! ^^factory. The 
directly upon the honesty of re «*ved depended 

could be no check upon them a nd ,7 h and , People. There 
Government it was almost iSpo" sibl to Tl^* Pander 

"T lts d 7 re in many -« t us d Sus he in T Th ^ 

of the p4k- lns tead of a possible i% to 2V 7 lakhs on) o In 1908 

an amount quite insufficient to me^ eveS th? T Picked ' 
above so that Government's share for th mamuIs detailed 
quantity. Rats undoubtedly do fn ^ear was a minus 

hard to believe that they a L P w en ° rm ° US ^mage but it is 
thought necessary to lafn tEZ&ffig** * Was 
occurred again, the cowle system woul cer t a ^ 
introduced. The result of thi= +u m "rtamly havetobe 
lakhs of nuts wer/^ed " Z^eZl ^ " ^ ^ 2 
as strongly averse as ever to anv \Zl I Wa§ n ° ted were 
reasons seemed obvious Even " ™ C ° WleS and the 
feared that the *™m P ?onZ™™Z^ d J * 
honestly brought to account, the peoD le h w ^ Werc 
communal rights in the Pandaram which wo.ldne 
by any system of cowles. They were J I b e destroyed 
past bearing for timber free and Th W6d t0 CUt trees 

sion where coconut ^ 0^0^ * C ° nces " 
could also cut the firewood LT^l ec tTeT ^ 
curing the mas, and they could cut th n l ? USed in 
they use for thatching an [ f e „ ci „ J PaIm T leave s which 
settlement after the disturbances " "o^ f Ws ' Hberal 
this unsatisfactory state of affairs A f ? PUt an end *° 
the South Pandaram is now e ased to hT ^ ^ ab ° Ve 
years at an annual rental of R s . ^ 2 . ° the 1Slanders for 3 0 

In order to maintain the plantation* ,t 
many years that the Amin shouW pS% ooo'th ^ 
Pandaram each year but as th P ni J 613 ln the 

open space that pfesente'dLelf, i tTLZ'Tue 
operations, while the dense iur^le nf ° Check his 

diminished in area. *l™r Z o8 i ^ ^ remai "ed un- 
Planting systematically in bloSs the T '° d ° the 

cleared. o that the corre'ct^nt Vlj^Z 
upon, while eventually it w a « ho p j "" ng c , 0uld be insisted 

had been „» de under the scheme up .J^^WJ. 



Pandaram has come under the people's own management, 
energetic planting and clearing has been undertaken and it 
may reasonably be hoped that in a few years the Pandaram 
will become a very valuable property indeed. 

A small fluctuating income was derived from the rent paid Toddy 
by toddy tappers for Pandaram trees tapped by them. The Ja PP in K- 
toddy is used solely for the manufacture of sugar. Tappers 
paid a rent of two adubas of jaggery per tree. In the Raja's 
time all tappers whether they tapped private or Pandaram 
trees paid a poll tax of 24 adubas. In 1904, an attempt was 
made to encourage the jaggery industry. In that year 
in response to a request from the Raveries themselves, 
Mr. Cotton arranged for the tapping of 3,000 trees in the South 
Pandaram at a rate of 24 adubas per man per month. It was 
hoped that an income of at least Rs. 3,000 per annum would 
be realized. These, tappers were established in two places 
in the South Pandaram but for some reason the scheme never 
succeeded and the tappers almost immediately began to 
agitate to be allowed to return to the village. In 1906 with the 
hope of accomplishing their object, they destroyed some young 
rubber trees planted at the lighthouse and were much 
chagrined at being ordered to remain in the Pandaram. In 
1908, the threat to introduce cowles in consequence of the poor 
yield of nuts from the Pandaram gave them an excuse to 
abandon their settlements and they returned to the village, 
affecting to consider their tapping operations as the cause of 
the decrease in nuts. The scheme had never produced any 
large revenue and was no longer persisted in. 




Manners ^ e is,lanclers > exce Pt on Minicoy, are all Moplahs almost 

Customs'and indistinguishable in appearance and dress from the Moplahs 
Laws. of the mainland except that their physical development is 

very much better. On each island there are a few mainland 
Moplahs, usually young lads of the poorest classes, who have 
been brought over by the richer islanders on a mere living 
wage in order that their masters may evade payment of 
labour at higher customary rates prevailing on the islands. 
There are also usually one or two Hindus of the goldsmith 
castes from Malabar. The islanders themselves do not work 
in the precious metals and these mainland goldsmiths in 
consequence find a most remunerative business on the islands, 
returning after two or three years to the mainland with their 

The population of each island, according to the latest 
figures (1921) is given in appendix II. 
Religion. The religion is Muhammadan. Like the Moplahs on the 

mainland, the islanders belong to the Shan school of the 
Sunni sect and acknowledge, besides the Koran, the authority 
; of the Sunneh or customary law as interpreted by Shafi. 

They are very strict in all their religious observances and 
have earned a great reputation for orthodoxy and piety 
among Muhammadans on the mainland. The men of 
Androth, particularly, pride themselves upon their religious 
knowledge and many of the Koyas of this island travel 
through Malabar giving religious instruction to the Moplahs 
and settling religious disputes. 

On every island except Minicoy there are three public 
mosques to which all the islanders resort on particular occa- 
sions. These are the Jamath, Moidin and Ujira mosques. 
There are besides many small private mosques, out of all pro- 
portion in numbers to the inhabitants, each with its little 
tank and grave yard. On Minicoy there is no Ujira mosque. 
Some of the richer families on Ameni have small private 
mosques for the women to which the women of the neigh- 
bouring houses also come. In these mosques the imam is 
always a woman. 

The Ramzan is strictly observed. Moiluths are performed 
in the month of Rabbil avvul (February-March) and three 
bethams or fasts are observed on the 13th, 14th and 15th of 
each lunar month. 



On all the islands except Minicoy a curious religious 
exercise, the Zikkar, is performed in honour of the saint 
Seyid Ahamed every Sunday and Friday night, according to 
Muhammadan computation (i.e., every Saturday and Thurs- 
day night) in the Moidin and Ujira mosques. Regular bands 
of disciples, forty to sixty strong, are enrolled for these exer- 
cises and systematically trained, one of the recognised 
instructors being the head of the Sheikhindeveetil family at 
Androth. For the performance, the band seats itself in the 
mosque in two rows facing each other, each man with a kind 
of tambourine in his right hand. These two ranks perform a 
series of bending exercises, keeping in perfect time and 
beating time on their tambourines, while the half dozen prin- 
cipal performers dance up and down between the rows and 
work themselves into fits of real or pretended frenzy. At the 
end of each fit they leap into the air shouting " Seyid 
Ahamed Khabir, Seyid Ahamed Khabir," and strike their 
chests with all their might with large iron pins which have 
weighted wooden knobs rather like enormous skipping rope 
handles, or pass through both cheeks, or through lip and 
tongue, long iron skewers. The instruments used are ter- 
ribly dirty and rusty but no ill effects seem to follow and little 
or no blood issues from the wounds. Another performer 
passes a blazing torch all over his body without apparently 
burning himself. Yet another, supported rigidly, by head 
and heels only, between two of the band, allows a fourth 
to strike lusty blows with a blunt sword upon his stomach 
without bending. These performances last for several hours. 

Similar performances are given by the islanders on the 
mainland when they visit the coast and also by the Moplahs 
of Malabar, but on the mainland they are never allowed to 
take place in a mosque. 

The language of the people on the Laccadives proper is 
Malayalam with many peculiarities of pronunciation, idiom 
and vocabulary, which seem to be more pronounced in the 
more northern islands. The dialects spoken on Chetlat and 
Kiltan are particularly difficult to understand. The Mala- Language 
yalam P is universally pronounced as an F, and in the 
Amindivis the Malayalam "V" becomes "B" as in Kana- 
rese. In the northern islands the interrogatory vowel appears 
to be a instead of o, while there are remains of a conjugation 
in personal endings similar to those used in the Tamil conju- 
gations, which are sometimes employed. The Tamil words 
shollu, to say, and tanni, water, _ are in common use. A 
number of words apparently peculiar to the islands are in 
common use : 

lacho and lachinni 

imba ... "' - sit down 

amba ... "* this side 

chala •• that side 

subbeyku much 
bimbi ... ' •• in the morning 

chulala ... ' "' •■• ra gi 

kOliyam ... " "' ••• tender coconut 

koygla ... "' spider 

wa & es for climbing a 
katti tree 

kattila ... -• jaggery 

kikare ... "' "' ••• doorframe 

par ... ••• seashore 

para ... ••• the reef \ 

"' the sandstone found 
parum ... °n most islands 

coir u S0 aking- P it s on 
arakan ... the seashore 

alagam ... "' "' ' • a cock 
brr ... "' a crab 

•• contributions of rice 

f y * lative s and 
balaga ... friends for a feast 

- - matted fibre covering 
billam ... of a coconut stem 

choppu lagoon 

tobacc ° (evidently 
from the Kanarese 
madu ... h °gge sappu ") 

madi '•• head 

.. , - f of coconut ' 

miruga (corruption of mriga) , If ' 
mattal ... ""'ga; ... turtle 

todi ... "•• •■ a rotten coconut 

thiggal "' "■ •■• coconut husk 

They have also peculiar terms ' for T' 
compass: north Uttarandhi, north-east Sh ,! P ° intS of the 
Pandhi, south-east Thuna andhi south T m'^' 6aSt 
west Birandhi, west Anarandhi, nUTest^ "S- ^ 

The inhabitants of Minicoy are vr h, hajJandhl - 
ent race and speak a different I-T ' a ° entireJ y differ 

Rallied to 1^™^™%^*!** is 2d 
Maldives are also Mahls. In app ea 'rance lta " tS of ^ 

different from the Malayalis of thp T * ^ Singly 
» and fiat i^J^™*^ ^ f^ 

ue a primitive 



Singalese type modified to some extent by an admixture of 
Arab blood. 

On Ameni the people are divided into four classes : — Classes 
(i) Tarawad, (2) Tanakampranavar, (3) Kudiyatis and (4) Amenl - 
Melacheries. About 5 per cent of the population belong to 
the first, 35 per cent to 40 per cent to the second, 5 per 
cent to the third, and the remainder to the last class. The 
distinction between them appears to have been based 
originally upon property. The Tarawad class consisted 
of the four original tarawad families, Pondambelli, Pora- 
kat, Beyamada and Thupekal (now represented by the 
Poradan family), which alone in the early days of the settle- 
ment had tenants. The Tanakampranavar, as their name 
indicates, were those possessing independent property of 
their own but with no tenants under them. The Kudiyatis 
were originally the tenant class. The Melacheries were the 
landless tree climbers. Now, however, the Kudiyatis and 
even some Melacheries have acquired property of their own 
and all except the Melacheries have tenants. The first two 
classes can intermarry and intermarriage between them and 
the Kudiyatis is allowed, but has very seldom taken place. 
The women, however, of the Porakat family and its branches 
in remembrance of an old insult offered to a Porakat lady by 
a Tanakanipranavan do not marry Tanakampranavars, 
although a Porakat man will marry a Tanakanipranavan girl. 
Intermarriage for both classes with the Melacheries is strictly 
prohibited. In one case, a Tanakanipranavan who married a 
Melacheri girl was outcasted. Intermarriage between the 
third and the fourth class is allowed. 

Members of the Tarawad families emigrated to the Malabar 
islands and founded families there. Thus the extinct 
tdiyyakal family at Kavarathi was a branch of the Pondam- 
belli family, while the Arenakada and Pudiyedan famifies are 
branches of the extinct Ameni family of Pudiyan. So also the 
Patakal family at Androth is a branch of the Pondambelli, and 
the Manmel Tarawad of Kalpeni is a branch of the Tupekal 
family. The Ameni Tarawad families will intermarry with 
these related families and also with the Karanavar class on 
the Malabar islands but not with the other classes. 

On Chetlat, Kiltan and Kadamath, with the exception of 
one family at Kiltan, the people are all Melacheries who have 
migrated either from Ameni or from the coast. On these 
northern islands those Melacheries who can read the Koran 
are styled Mukris and do not climb trees. One family at 
Kiltan which emigrated from Agathi many generations ago is 
not regarded as Melacheri and always holds the Khaziship of 



the island. On both Chetlat and Kiltan a few of the leading 
families style themselves Koyas and dress in rather better 
fashion but intermarry with the other Melacheri families. 
Their superior standing is not recognized by the Ameni 
islanders and when they visit that island, they have to conform 
to the custom regarding Melacheri dress. 
Malabar On the Malabar group the people are divided into three 

islands. classes, the Koyas, Malmis, and Melacheries. In the older 

reports the Malmis are also called Urukars but this term 
is now quite unknown and never used. The Koya fami- 
lies use the title of Koya, own most of the trees upon the 
islands and most of the odams. Some of the Malmis also are 
jenmies but usually on a smaller scale than the Koyas. 
Most of them are tenants. The Melacheries are petty tenants 
and servants of the other two classes and also toddy drawers. 
Intermarriage between the different classes is almost unknown. 
The Koyas of Androth, Kavarathi and Kalpeni claim to 
be descended from Nambudri and Nair ancestors from the 
coast and hence these three islands are known as Tarawad 
islands in distinction to Agathi, a Melacheri island, the 
inhabitants of which seem to have descended from Tiyyars 
and other lower castes. The three classes now existing on 
Agathi seem to have arisen in imitation of the distinctions 
which existed on the Tarawad islands. On Kavarathi and 
Androth are branches of a family, the Sheikhindeveeti! 
family, which claims descent from the original Sheikh or 
descendant of the Prophet who came to Androth some six 
generations ago. The members rather regard themselves as 
a people apart from the rest of the islanders. 

The Koyas or Tarawadis are the leisured class and 
rarely do any work. Occasionally they may do a little culti- 
vation |ind fishing. Those who own odams superintend the 
repair of their vessels and sail their vessels to the coast and 
back. On the coast it is they who do all the trading with the 
dallals in the cargo shipped in their boats. The custom is to 
hand over the whole cargo to the particular dallal with whom 
the odam owner is in the habit of dealing, the dallal for his 
part maintaining the owner and his crew during their stay. 
Bitter complaints are made by the odam owners that the 
dallals keep large fictitious debts pending against them in 
their accounts and make adjustments and debits which the 
owners have no means of checking. The kudians, on the 
other hand, who are bound by island custom to ship their 
goods in their jenmi's odam or in the odam in which the jenmi 
himself ships, are equally loud in their complaints against the 
odam owners. The owners never used to render any account 



whatever and were proved to have had a secret compact with 
the dallals by which the notified price of all articles purchased 
was always less than the price paid to the owners. In order 
to protect the kudians to some extent an order was passed in 
1909 that the odam owners when obtaining their port clear- 
ance should file in the Amin's office a copy of the list ordered 
in 1908 to be maintained showing the names of shippers and 
the quantities of goods shipped by each. 

The Koyas make over most of their trees to tenants, 
either Malmis or Melacheries, who in return are bound to 
render certain customary services and pay a nominal rent. 

In addition to the rules regarding intermarriage, certain 
distinctions in sumptuary matters are very strictly enforced on 
all the islands by the two higher classes. A Melacheri is not 
allowed to wear sandals or a jacket or coat or to use an 
umbrella. Only Melacheries can be barbers, goldsmiths or 
blacksmiths and only Melacheries may climb trees, carry 
loads, twist coir, or bale water and cook on the odams during a 
voyage. There seems to be a growing tendency on the part of 
the higher classes to enforce these distinctions more strictly 
while the Melacheries are demanding greater freedom. 
1 The class feeling has been very acute, particularly on Agathi 
and Androth. On Androth the Melacheries are an industrious 
and prospering class and naturally chafe at the subordination 
in which they are held by the Koyas. On Agathi strife 
between the two classes has been going on for some years 
past, mainly over the question whether Melacheries should be 
invited to sing in the singing parties at Koya weddings. 
This dispute first arose some 30 or 40 years ago. It was settled 
then by the formation of two singing parties of trained 
frien both Koyas and Melacheries which were to be invited to 
all weddings. Gradually, however, on the score of expense 
some Koyas failed to invite the Melacheri members. Disputes 
arose in consequence. Mr. Rabjohns in 1913 gave a ruling 
upholding the old custom but the matter was taken in appeal 
to the High Court and failing to get a reconsideration of the 
order there, the aggrieved parties produced a situation upon 
the island which bordered upon anarchy. Melacheries refused 
to do any work for Koyas and even among the Koyas 
themselves dissensions arose. The dispute was happily com- 
promised in 1920. 

The people wear the same dress as Moplahs on the main- Dress, 
land. The cutcherry Karanavars, particularly on Androth, 
wear when in court and on ceremonial occasions long hand- 
some robes of silk or velvet of any brilliant hue that takes 
their fancy, with a finely embroidered waistcoat underneath. 



Although the initial expenditure for the wedding falls 
upon the bride's family, the bridegroom has to reimburse them 
according to a customary scale a year later. This he does 
under a remarkable system of co-operative borrowing. He 
collects rice from all his relatives and friends on condition of 
repayment to them free of interest later under similar circum- 
stances. Such a contribution of rice on condition of repay- Bir _ 
ment upon the occasion of some ceremony in the lender's 
house is known as a bir. It is a recognised system of 
borrowing. Regular accounts of the transactions are kept. 
If the loans are not repaid, the amounts are recoverable by 
suit and they can form the subject of a vasiyath to children 
or anandiravans. 

A man always sleeps in his wife's house (vidu), takes tea 
or kunjee there in the early morning and then goes to his 
own house (pura). All his meals he takes in his own house. 

Divorce is very common and in most cases it appears to be Dlvorce - 
the woman who wants it. If the wife does not want the hus- 
band, he is bound to divorce her, but may take back all the 
clothing and jewelry which he has given her and also a 
portion of the bir. If the husband wants the divorce, he, has 
to relinquish to the wife all that he may have given her, in- 
cluding the mahar. Either party can divorce for any reason 
whatever. As might be expected, with these facilities for 
divorce on both sides, very few men have more than one 
wife and there are very few men or women who have not been 
married and divorced several times. 

On the birth of the first child, the father gives the wife's Birth ceie - 

r ■ r i i r -l monies. 

family II muras of rice for expenses, 15 bottles of coconut oil 
and 40 fowls, all collected on the bir system. The mother 
observes no particular ceremonies. On the seventh day the 
father or grandfather gives the child its name but there is no 
ceremony. On the fortieth day the child's head is first shaved 
and the father usually gives a small feast in honour of the 
occasion. Circumcision takes place when a boy is between 7 
and 10 years old, but if the father is poor and unable to find the 
money for the customary feast which is given on the occasion, 
it may even be postponed till the boy is 15. The rite is per- 
formed by a specially skilled barber. There is no religious 
ceremony. The father gives a feast to relatives and friends 
or if he is a rich man, entertains the whole island. For girls 
an ear-boring ceremony has been performed in a few cases 
within recent years, but it is quite an innovation. It takes 
place when the girls are between the ages of 5 and 10. The 
boring is performed by one of the women or by a goldsmith. 



The women do not observe gosha. Their ornaments are 
much like those of Moplah women in Malabar. They are of 
gold in the case of the higher castes and of silver for the 
Melacheries. The ears are pierced at regular intervals just in- 
side their outer rim and from 12 to 15 earrings are usually 
worn. The earrings consist of a circle of fine gold or silver 
wire with a thin crescent of the same metal soldered 
inside it at one side and often beautifully worked. The richer 
women also wear high collarets of gold on ceremonial occa- 
sions. The men wear small oblong silver amulets containing 
a text from the Koran, tied either to the upper arm or to the 
waist string, as a charm. 
Marriage. Boys are generally married between the ages of 18 and 20, 

girls when they are between 10 and 12, but a fatherless girl 
cannot be married until she has attained puberty. The first 
match is arranged for a boy by the karanavars of both parties. 
Subsequent marriages he is allowed to arrange for himself. 
The ceremony performed is the usual Muhammadan nikka 
ceremony. It is usually performed in the bride's house if she 
belongs to the upper classes and in the mosque if she is a 
Melacheri. The customary dowry by the husband to the 
wife is Rs. 30 for the first class, Rs, 12 for the second and from 
Rs. 3 to 6 for Melacheries. Rich families spend very large 
sums on the feast which accompanies a wedding. Very 
rich families will even feast the whole island, and 15 to 20 
muras of rice, 8 or 10 cows, some 20 goats and 5 or 6 maunds 
of jaggery will be consumed. The whole expenditure falls in 
the first instance upon the bride's family. After the public 
feasting, the relatives and friends who accompany the bride- 
groom are feasted for seven days at the bride's house. Among 
the upper classes the bridegroom is conducted to the bride's 
house with singing. The Melacheries are allowed to have 
singing only in their houses and not on the way. The songs 
(kettipadu) sung on these occasions are either composed 
locally for the occasion or are printed Moplah songs brought 
over from the mainland. The bride's house is of course 
greatly decorated for the occasion. The bridegroom brings 
with him two companions < tholi) who stay with him at the 
bride's house for the next forty days. After the marriage the 
bridegroom has to make a customary present to the bride of a 
fixed number of cloths and saries, which in the case of the 
higher classes is quite a costly gift, ft is, however, collected 
by the bridegroom from among his relations, he having to 
give back to each when his turn comes to get married a cloth 
of equal value. 



Although the initial expenditure for the wedding falls 
upon the bride's family, the bridegroom has to reimburse them 
according to a customary scale a year later. This he does 
under a remarkable system of co-operative borrowing. He 
collects rice from all his relatives and friends on condition of 
repayment to them free of interest later under similar circum- 
stances. Such a contribution of rice on condition of repay- Bir _ 
ment upon the occasion of some ceremony in the lender's 
house is known as a bir. It is a recognised system of 
borrowing. Regular accounts of the transactions are kept. 
If the loans are not repaid, the amounts are recoverable by 
suit and they can form the subject of a vasiyath to children 
or anandiravans. 

A man always sleeps in his wife's house (vidu), takes tea 
or kunjee there in the early morning and then goes to his 
own house (pura). All his meals he takes in his own house. 

Divorce is very common and in most cases it appears to be Dlvorce - 
the woman who wants it. If the wife does not want the hus- 
band, he is bound to divorce her, but may take back all the 
clothing and jewelry which he has given her and also a 
portion of the bir. If the husband wants the divorce, he, has 
to relinquish to the wife all that he may have given her, in- 
cluding the mahar. Either party can divorce for any reason 
whatever. As might be expected, with these facilities for 
divorce on both sides, very few men have more than one 
wife and there are very few men or women who have not been 
married and divorced several times. 

On the birth of the first child, the father gives the wife's Birth cere- 

" i monies. 

family II muras of rice for expenses, 15 bottles of coconut oil 
and 40 fowls, all collected on the bir system. The mother 
observes no particular ceremonies. On the seventh day the 
father or grandfather gives the child its name but there is no 
ceremony. On the fortieth day the child's head is first shaved 
and the father usually gives a small feast in honour of the 
occasion. Circumcision takes place when a boy is between 7 
and 10 years old, but if the father is poor and unable to find the 
money for the customary feast which is given on the occasion, 
it may even be postponed till the boy is 15. The rite is per- 
formed by a specially skilled barber. There is no religious 
ceremony. The father gives a feast to relatives and friends 
or if he is a rich man, entertains the whole island. For girls 
an ear-boring ceremony has been performed in a few cases 
within recent years, but it is quite an innovation. It takes 
place when the girls are between the ages of 5 and 10. The 
boring is performed by one of the women or by a goldsmith. 



After death, the body is first washed and then anointed 
with scents. The eyes are closed and antimony applied 
round them. A preparation of camphor and benzol is applied 
to the eyes, nose, ears and mouth. The body is then wrapped 
in three pieces of cloth, laid in the coffin and tied in with 
three strips of cloth, one at the head, one at the waist and one 
at the feet. Each relative provides four cubits of cloth for 
these purposes. Only a small portion of the cloth contributed 
is, however, actually used for wrapping the body. Rich 
people dress the body in turban, jacket, and cloth. The coffin 
is finally placed on a cot under a canopy. The burial takes 
place as soon as possible, but before the body is carried to 
the grave, a feast is given, in the case of rich people to the 
whole island. A peculiarity of the feasting is the free dis- 
tribution of uncooked rice also, particularly to the richer 
people present. All the rice for these presents and for the 
feast is collected under the brr system. After the burial, 
mukries read the Koran at the grave or in the house for 3, 7 
or II days and on the last day of the reading there is 
another feast. 

Beautifully carved tomb stones of coral lime a stone stained 
a delicate green or blue and bearing texts from the Koran are 
set up at head and foot of the grave. The tomb stones carved 
on Kavarathi are particularly fine. 

As might be expected among sea-faring folk the building 
of an odam is attended with feasting and ceremonial. A 
feast is given to the carpenters when the keel is laid. At the 
launching, moulath is read, prayers are said and there is 
much singing by both men and women separately. A large 
feast is given and the persons attending it bring gifts to the 
owner for which he is expected to give an equivalent when 
they in their turn build an odam. 

Very ancient institutions, found also among the Moplahs 
of Malabar, are the feasting clubs. Each has a membership 
of 20 or 30 and each member contributes a small sum of money, 
a seer of rice and some coconuts. The keenest rivalry 
exists between the various clubs, each trying to outdo the 
other in the sumptuousness of its repasts- One club will invite 
the members of another club to a feast and that club will in 
its turn invite the members of the first club to a feast which 
it will endeavour to make more spendid and more lavish than 
the feast given to it. 

The island law is a curious mixture of the ordinary 
Muhammadan Law with the Marumakkattayam Law of Mala- 
bar. Property is regarded as either ancestral or self acquired 



Ancestral property is known as Velliaricha (literally Friday 
property), pronounced Belliaricha on the Amindivis. Self 
acquired property is known as Tingalaricha (literally Monday 
property) on the Malabar islands and as Belaricha on the 
South Kanara islands. The reason for applying these terms 
to the different kinds of property is quite unknown. Velli- 
aricha property is governed by the ordinary Marumakkatta- 
yam Law, i.e., descent is through a sister's children, while 
Tingalaricha property passes to a man's own children under 
the ordinary Muhammadan Law. The distinction as may be 
imagined leads to innumerable disputes which are often very 
difficult of decision. On the Amindivis, if a man has no 
sons he can constitute his Belaricha property the Belliaricha 
property of his daughters who become a tarwad within the 
tarwad so far as hereditary rights to that particular property 
are concerned. On the Amindivis ancestral property can be 
the subject of a mortgage but the right of redemption is 
reserved to the reversioners at the rate of Re. I per tree. 

There was until recent years no idea of property in land. 
The property consisted entirely of the trees or houses upon the 
land. A man had a right to plant a coconut in any vacant 
space provided he did not do so within a recognized distance 
of an existing tree within which the owner of the tree had 
exclusive right to plant. It is difficult to say how far even 
now an idea of property in land has developed. All trees 
bear their owner's property mark and it is still a parti- 
cular number of trees, not particular land, that is given 
to a tenant. On the other hand, there is a growing tendency 
to demarcate the ground and to define plots of trees by 
boundaries in documents. * 

The old system of planting has resulted in an extra- 
ordinary mixing up of properties, one man's trees being mixed 
up with another's in a way th'it is a fertile cause of disputes 
and adds considerably to the difficulty of setting them. 

The customs, regarding tenancies are peculiar and almost 
feudal in character. The owners make over most of their 
trees to tenants (kudians), who pay a rent of one-tenth of the 
produce and are bound to render service to the jenmi. From 
30 to 50 trees usually constitute a service but one man may 
hold several such grants from the same jenmi or from several 
jenmis. The more important services to be rendered by the 
kudian are to sail one trip in the jenmi's odam if he has one, 
or if not, in that odam in which the jenmi's ships his produce, 
to sail in the jenmi fishing boat, to thatch the odam shed, to 
paint and oil with fish oil the jenmi's odam and fishing boats, 
to serve in the jenmi's house at festivals and to thatch it. 


In addition the kudian is bound to ship his goods in the 
jenmi'sodam or in that odam in which the jenmi himself ships 
his goods, and he has to pay a freightage of one-tenth the 
value of goods shipped. The Koyas are extremely jealous 
of these rights, particularly those relating to the shipping of 
produce which give them a monopoly of the island trade. The 
kudians have always asserted their right to ship the produce 
of trees of which they are themselves the owners in any odam 
they please, and this right has been upheld by the Courts. 

In default of service the owner can sue before the amin. 
Rs. 18 is the recognised amount at which one service is 
valued. On Ameni a distinction is dr.iwn between Pale 
Kudians who have held trees under the same jenmis for many 
generations, and whose tenure is practically permanent, and 
Pudiya Kudians, holding more recent grants. Suits against 
Pale Kudians are usually only brought for enforcement of 
service, not for eviction. 

Minicoy. The people of Minicoy are entirely different in manners 

and customs from the Malayali inhabitants of the Laccadives. 
Like them, they are all Muhammadans. They are divided 

Classes. into four classes, the Raveris who are tree climbers and 
tappers and correspond to the Melacheries ; the Takkrus, 
sailors and boatmen whose women use the title bibi ; Malmis, 
also sailors but of a better standing socially ; and Malikhans, 
the highest class, corresponding to Koyas. The Malmi women 
use the title bifan and the Malikha n women the title manikka. 
Intermarriage between Malikhans and Malmis and between 
Takkrus and Raveris is allowed but not between the two 
higher classes and the two lower. In former times the 
children of a marriage of a Takkru with a Raveri were known 
as Kohlus, but this term has gone out of use within the last 30 
or 40 years and the children of such a marriage now take the 
class of the father or mother whichever is higher. Interdining 
is only allowed between the classes between which inter- 
marriage is allowed and in fact the caste system is complete. 
Intermarriages with the higher classes on the other islands and 
with Moplahs from the mainland occasionally take place. 

Courtship is a recognised preliminary to marriage. Early 
marriages are not allowed. Men do not marry before they are 
20 years of age and women not until they are 16. The people 
are strict monogamists in theory and in practice, and 
divorces are quite uncommon. In these respects they are 
markedly superior to the inhabitants of the Laccadives proper. 

inheritance, The laws of inheritance are peculiar. Owing to the 
monopoly of practically all the land by the Bibi, the houses 
form almost the only kind of real property known. Island law 



decrees that no man can have any claim to a house. It vests 
in the women of the family and the men of the family have 
only the right of residence and maintenance till marriage. On . 
marriage a man passes to his wife's house and takes his 
wife's family name. A woman who ceases to reside in the 
family house for any reason ipso facto loses her claim to 
reside in it and' cannot return. Other property follows the 
ordinary Muhammadan laws of succession. 

From time immemorial certain sanitary rules have been s an j ta ry 
observed. All small-pox cases are segregated on the little laws, 
island of Viringilli immediately south of the main island and 
all cases of leprosy, as soon as they are pronounced by the 
Khazi to be leprosy, are sent to a Leper Settlement about 
a mile north of the village where the unfortunate persons 
remain for the rest of their lives. Public opinion so strongly 
supports these customs that, although no guards are posted 
over either Settlement, no escapes are ever attempted. 

In social matters the development of the Minicoy islanders Social 
is equally marked. The village is divided into nine wards or cuhtpmi " 
attiris. Each has its club for the men, and its corresponding 
varangi for the women. Each attiri or varangi has its own 
club house. The men's club house is an unpretentious affair, 
sometimes an ugly corrugated iron structure, simply furnished 
with one or two large swinging divans on which the men can 
sit and swing themselves as they talk. Here the attiri 
feasts take place and all the necessary saman is ranged on 
shelves round the walls. Each attiri maintains at a very con- 
siderable expense a troupe of dancers, a snake boat, and a 
jolly boat Each troupe of dancers is from 40 to 50 strong and 
though the dress of all the troupes is similar, each attiri has 
its own distinctive colour. The dress consists of a pair of 
coloured silk trousers cut very wide at the feet, a white cloth 
with a red border tied round the waist and hanging down 
almost to the ankles and two coloured silk clothes tied round 
the waist so as to leave a triangular point hanging down 
behind. Scarlet waist strings with long beaded tassels and 
a mother of pearl pocket knife with silver ornaments are worn 
by the rank and file, while the leaders are distinguished by 
handsome velvet sabre-taches of blue or scarlet edged with 
silver lace. The upper part of the body is naked. On the 
head a small coloured cap is worn with a silk cloth tied tightly 
into a roll and wound round it to form a brim. In the waist, in 
the cap, and hanging from it down the back are sprays of the 
betel vine which add a most effective touch to the costume. 
The only music is provided by a small barrel-shaped drum 
which each man has slung from his neck and on which he 



keeps perfect time in even the most complicated exercises.- 
A complete costume costs from one hundred to two hundred 
rupees and is provided by the wearer himself. All the 
dances are performed with marvellous precision. Some are 
of a most exhausting character and leave the performers at 
the end breathless and exhausted. 

The snake boats or jeha dhonies are beautiful craft, built 
on exquisite lines and very fast. They are long enough 
to accommodate eleven or twelve pairs of rowers and just wide 
enough for two men to sit abreast. They have a small 
platform at the stern on which the coxswain stands, while a 
man with a paddle sits at his feet on each side and gives the 
time to the rowers. The crews are dressed uniformly, each 
attiri having its own distinctive colour for turban and trousers, 
the boats and oars are gaily painted, and the appearence of 
the whole fleet is striking. Each attiri also maintains a large 
jolly boat painted to match its snake boat, which is used to 
tow important visitors ashore or out again to their ship or for 
trips in the lagoon. A snake boat race is usually held when 
an Inspecting Officer visits the island and creates much 

Each attiri is ruled by a headman appointed by the attiri 
but there seems to be no definite election or appointment. 
The post is not hereditary and a holder is deposed as soon as 
he loses the confidence of the attiri. Each headman has an 
assistant. All affairs relating to the attiri are settled in public 
meeting known as a Vemadu which is summoned by the head- 
man. Questions affecting the whole island are discussed and 
settled at a meeting of all the attiris known as a Havar. 

The women of each ward are similarly organised under a 
headwoman. The club house, Varangi, is beautifully built 
on the model of an old-fashioned sailing-ship's State room. 
The men provide all the money and labour required for the 
building. The walls are often neatly panelled in wood or 
are tastefully decorated with painted designs, and the whole 
building shows more real artistic taste and perfection of 
execution than is usually to be met with in buildings on the 
mainland. Round the walls runs a low masonry seat. Here 
the Varangi meets to discuss its affairs and here during the 
day the women bring their coir and sit twisting it and 
gossiping while their babies play about upon the floor. 

The women seem to enjoy almost as much freedom as 
European women. The men are mainly serangs and kalassis 
upon ships and are away from the island for 2 or 3 years at 
a time. As a result the women have acquired considerable 
influence in public affairs and it is usual to consult them in 



matters affecting the island. There is no school on the island 
and it is the women of each family who teach the children to 
read and write Mahl. There are separate bathing tanks for 
the women. Men are not allowed to approach them or the 
shady places behind the village where the women beat out 
the coir. 

The ordinary dress of a Minicoy man consists of a turban r) re ss. 
of red cloth with a large chequered pattern of narrow white 
lines upon it, a pair of white or butcher's-blue trousers and a 
white cloth tied round the waist and falling to well below the 
knees. The upper part of the body is bare. When out 
fishing in their mas boats, the men wear cloth hats of all 
colours and of extraordinary shapes which give them a most 
picturesque appearance. 

The women of the upper classes wear, over fine silk cloths 
similar to those worn by the richer Moplah women, a long 
red silk overall with short sleeves, opening only at the neck 
where it is fastened together by two loops, one on each 
shoulder. The silk is of a particular kind which is brought 
from Bengal. The hair is worn in a peak at the back of the 
head and over this is tied a dark blue kerchief covering the 
head. Only the three upper classes may wear gold or silver 
ornaments. The Manikkas wear a number of gold rings in 
the outer rim of the ear rather as the Moplah women do. 
The other two classes wear silver. On festive occasions the 
arms are covered with silver armlets from wrist to elbow. 

The Raveri women wear a similar overall of the same 
colour but of coarser silk. They wear dark kerchiefs on 
their heads and tie the hair in a kind of big chignon at the 
back and slightly to one side. They are not allowed to wear 
earrings of gold or silver but have the rims of the ears 
pierced like the other classes and wear small rings of dark 
thread in them. 

Every woman carries a fine betel pouch plaited in Ceylon 
or the Maldives from a particular grass. Inside are a small 
pair of arecanut cutters and a conical silver casket with two 
compartments, one containing chunam and the other arecanut 
or tobacco. From the casket hangs a long handsome silver 
chain at the end of which are attached sets of silver imple- 
ments for cleaning the teeth and ears. The bridegroom on 
marriage is expected to give the bride a complete set, a 
plaited pouch and silver box with its pendant. 

The houses on Minicoy are better built and more lofty Houses, 
than on the Laccadives proper but are very dark, windows 
being few and small. A long verandah runs down the out- 
side from which the rooms open. A prominent feature in 



each room is a large swinging couch of the kind already 
mentioned as being found in the men's attiris, and in each 
corner will be seen suspended the mosquito curtains of long- 
cloth, within which the inmates are forced to shelter them- 
selves from the hordes of mosquitoes that infest the island. 

A curious ceremony takes place when the Inspecting 
officer or Collector visits the island. The women of the island 
march to the cutcherry by varangis to pay their respects. 
All range themselves round and then representatives of each 
varangi advance. The first two women carry rose water 
sprinklers filled with rose water or other scented water with 
which the guests are liberally sprinkled. The next woman 
anoints the guests with attar or sandalwood oil. A fourth 
advances bearing an electroplate egg-stand and a tea pot. 
Into the egg cups she pours a sweetened drink from the 
tea pot, and presents them. A fifth presents the time- 
honoured pan supari, a sixth a bowl of eggs and a seventh a 
fowl or two. The same ritual is gone through by each of the 
nine varangis in turn. 

The coconut husk is beaten only on Saturday, Sunday, 
Tuesday, and Thursday in each week although twisting may 
be done on any day. If a death occurs in a Malikhan family, 
beating is stopped by the family for three days, if in a family 
belonging to one of the other classes, for one day. Similarly, 
if any person is declared a leper and sent to the settlement, 
beating is stopped for three days. 



yj^^^ The lines 01 

The islanders are expert boat -W^^ by builders 
th J r boats are quite different ^™ any ^ ow pl t 
n he coast or from those of lved by the people 

on the LUd , ecem to have been <~ boats in 

coast ports, and seem ^ approaching their b 

decked but have a n«^.f a S some shelter to the 
« 7nf coconut matting which attor g man 

and a small platform at the s rn for they 
Thlboat's sides at the f^^or^ with arabesque 

Ued , ° The Zanders however are expe ut 

of the The '™ bere bei merely tarred the 

to ^ 

f^arto . Si small f f«, " 'sr^l fleet of then,. 

"S t S afloat but no new ones have 

nf these vessels are =>• 

inbuilt of recent year. iderable amount of fishing Fishing 

b As is dnly to be fP^^e is no export of fish on any 
is done on all the islands butth ^ feef t 

l S arge -ale except rom M.nicoy^^ ^ ^ ^ hardly 

cally all the fishing is y 




ever used. The line is made of white cotton cord, never 
tanned, which the islanders themselves twist from cotton 
brought from the mainland, and is furnished with two hooks. 
The baits mainly used are hermit crabs and siphunculids. 

Inside the lagoon, nets are used. Three kinds are known, 
the kandalai vala, the adi vala and the vlsu vala. The 
kandalai vala is the largest net used. It is made in sections. 
Each section belongs to several men and the owners of all or 
a number of sections unite for fishing. This net is made of 
untanned cotton, spun on the island, with inch meshes in 
the wings decreasing to 7'8th meshes at the centre. The float 
line is buoyed by cylindrical floats of " paruthi," a white 
wood, threaded on at close intervals. The first process in the 
operation of fishing with this net is to lay out an " ola vala, " 
a coir rope to which have been tied narrow strips of coconut 
leaf as thickly as possible all along its length. This is also 
made in sections by separate owners who unite for the fishing. 
The " Ola vala " is coiled into two boats which proceed side 
by side a considerable distance into the lagoon. When they 
get sufficiently far from shore the boats separate and return 
to the shore in a wide sweep, paying out the ola vala as they 
go and also distributing their crews at intervals along it till 
there is only one man left to work the boat. The men thus 
jettisoned swim or wade behind the " ola vala " to lift it over 
any rocks and once the ends have reached the shore keep up 
a continuous shouting to scare the fish and prevent them 
breaking through. When the boats get near enough, other 
men from the shore' dash into tho water, catch the ends of 
the rope, drag them ashore, and commence pulling the rope 
in. The bight of the rope is thus gradually narrowed. More 
men dash in and take station along it, till finally a small 
piece of water is completely enclosed by a ring of shouting 
men lined along the rope, and the " catch " can be seen 
dashing frantically through the water in attempts to escape. 
The kandalai vala is now taken out in a boat to the furthest 
point from the shore and paid out equally from there along 
both sides, inside the rope, till it completely encloses the 
space. It is then dragged ashore with much shouting. The 
catch is divided up among the owners of the sections, and 
those who have helped. The kandalai vala is the net used on 
the fishing expeditions to the great reefs. 

The adi vala is a small seine net used only in very shallow 
water. It has wooden floats of "Paruthi" and afong the 
bottom small coral stones as weights. It is 18 fathoms long 
by five or six feet deep. 


When the boats return in the evening, the fish are cleaned. 
The gill covers are wrenched off by hand and then the mouth 
parts and viscera are easily pulled out. Then comes the 
division of the catch. The boat owner gets 21 out of every 
TOO, while the standing crew get half as much again of the 
remainder as the volunteers. Each man takes his share 
home where the women at once proceed deftly to trim off 
what remains of the head and to fillet the fish. They cut it 
first vertically into two along the spine removing the spine 
and fins. Then each of these large pieces is cut down the 
middle into two fillets. The fillets are washed in two changes 
of water and then boiled for 12 hours in equal parts of fresh 
and salt water. Next morning they are taken out and laid in 
a single layer over smouldering coconut husks and allowed 
to smoke for a couple of hours. They are then spread on 
coconut mats in the sun and allowed to dry till so hard that 
they will not yield to the touch. This requires about three 
days. The dried fish is sold to traders on the island who 
ship it to Ceylon either direct or via Calicut or Cannanore. 
The price realised is three or four annas a fillet and in a 
good year the industry is estimated to bring in about 
Rs. 25,000. 

This delicacy so greatly appreciated by the Chinese was Beche-de-mer 
at one time very largely manufactured on the islands. It is or Tre P aQ S- 
made from the holothurian or sea cucumber of which three 
suitable varieties are found, the vella koka, mottled grey 
and brown, the karutha koka, black, and the soganna koka 
reddish brown. The animals are found in great quantities 
in the lagoons of all the islands and are collected by wading 
and also by spearing from a boat. 

The curing process is as follows :— Each holothurian is 
first cut open longitudinally and the viscera removed; the 
thick fleshy body wall remaining is washed in sea water and 
then boiled for not less than half an hour till a characteristic 
odour is given off. The pieces are then taken out of the pot 
pinned open with short wooden skewers to prevent curling 
and dried in strong sunlight upon a cadjan platform for 7 days. 
They are then packed and exported mainly to Ceylon through 
Mangalore middlemen. The price is about Rs. 5 per thulam 
of 28 lb. With improved methods of curing, the industry 
appears capable of considerable expansion. 

The important industry of coir twisting is carried on Coir 
only by the women of the Melacheri class. The coconuts ,WIStin s- 
are plucked and husked by the men. The husks are then 
left to steep for six or eight months in pits built with 
coral rock between high and low water-mark in sheltered 



situations on either the lagoon beach or the sea beach. A few 
fresh water pits in the interior of the island are also used but 
the coir from husks soaked in fresh water is not considered to 
be so good. When sufficiently rotted, the husks are taken out 
and beaten by the women with a wooden beater on a flat stone. 
The resulting coir is then washed out and dried and finally 
twisted by the women by hand into yarn. Feet as well as 
hands are cleverly used. The quality depends upon the 
fineness of the twist and the colour. The best Laccadive 
coir is produced on Chetlat but on Minicoy a very fine twist is 
produced which is very greatly superior to it. 

Jaggery and The people being Muhammadans are not allowed by their 
vinegar. religion to drink fermented toddy but a considerable amount 
of tapping for sweet toddy is done. Instead of coating the 
pots with lime to prevent fermentation the tappers place small 
chips of coral rock in the pots. They imagine that this 
prevents fermentation but in fact it does not. The people, 
however, drink the toddy in the morning before fermentation 
has proceeded far. From the sweet toddy, jaggery and vine- 
gar, for use on the island and also for export, are manufactured. 
The methods are crude and owing to the fact that slightly 
fermented toddy is used the jaggery produced does not harden 
like the jagery manufactured on the mainland but remains a 
viscous suggary substance and is exported in tins or in balls 
wrapped in leaves. It has a sweeter flavour than the mainland 

Topee Until a few years ago many of the Melacheries of Agathi 

making. use d | 0 g 0 regularly to the coast where they remained during 
the fair weather making the characteristic Moplah embroi- 
dered cap. As the price of the more elaborate caps ranged 
up to Rs. 15 this was a very profitable undertaking. The 
islanders on account of their skill were in particular request 
for making the caps, but they have now almost entirely given 
up this occupation, though a few still make caps for the 
islanders themselves. 
Agriculture Practically the only form of agriculture found on the 

islands is the cultivation of the coconut, but the methods 
adopted are crude and ignorant. No system of manuring is 
followed. In many places serious overplanting has been 
practised. The natural result is a decrease in the annual crop, 
of which the people are at last becoming aware. 

On Androth, Agathi, Kavarathi and Kalpeni, in the tottams 
or avals, excavations in the centre of the island made by the 
islanders in very ancient times, a little paddy, ragi, gram, 
sweet potatoes or yams is grown. 



Rats are a serious pest of the coconut trees. They have 
become entirely arboreal in habit, live and breed in the tops 
of the trees and the coconuts seem to have become their only 
food. The rats exist in enormous numbers and eat and destroy 
an incalculable number of coconuts. The ground underneath 
the trees is littered, on all the islands, with rat-eaten nuts. 
The only remedy seems to be a systematic hunting of rats and 
destruction of nests, accompanied by careful protection from 
invasion of trees once cleared, but it is doubtful whether the 
indolent islanders will ever undertake the vigorous campaign 
that would be required to diminish the pest appreciably, if not 
to exterminate it. 

Another common pest of the coconut is the Rhinoceros 
beetle (Olyctes rhinoceros) a large black beetle which bores 
into the heart of the crown and the bases of the leaf stalks. 
In doing so it injures the young rolled-up leaves which when 
unfolded are seen to be all cut and tattered. On the mainland 
the holes bored are infested by an even worse pest, the Red 
Weevil but this is not known to occur on the islands. The 
grub of the Rhinoceros beetle is found in manure heaps, 
fallen tree trunks, piles of rotten cadjans, or in any heaps of 
similar decomposing rubbish, and the most effective remedy 
for the pest is to burn all rubbish and rotten tree trunks. 

Traders have been established on Minicoy for many years. Trade, 
On the other islands petty traders have appeared only in 
recent years. The great bulk of the trade is, as already 
stated, still in the hands of the boat owners who deal through 
a few brokers on the coast. The petty traders charged such 
exorbitant prices that it was found necessary in 1920 to fix a 
price for coir. 

The principal exports are coconuts, copra, coir, jaggery, 
cadjans and firewood, and the principal imports rice, salt, 
tobacco, cloths, condiments, cattle, kerosine oil, timber, tiles, 
earthenware, in fact all the necessities of life, for which the 
people are entirely dependent upon the mainland. 




The island of Ae-nth; v 
N- and longitude 28 E 7^ * Iatitude ">° Si' <o< 
Kavarathi and 40 nrteV silth ' 35 m '" Ies "orth-west of 
-ste rJy of the Laccad - '^-west of Ameni is th/^ 

and Ivmg s i Ight] nort , Droac '• Along its eastern 1r - 

Ite elf, slig htJy over °g miles T SOUth " w «t is the L"^ 
« 'ts broadest point. The lo u h "* ^ ^ yards wick 
narrow strip aImost 2 J™ ^™ T?™ COnsists of a Ton 
of about 100 yards. This n. dnd of an average breadth 

J- ^ and co Ji ™i: 0Uthern POrti °" ^ -er 

The remamder of the island ^ ^7^' C ° COnut trees 
interspersed with bread f ruit 'f^ Planted with coconuts 
houses of the inhabitants A^th? ■ C ° ntainS the ottered 
Possesses no storm beach tl 18 rem arkable i n that it 

of sand, rising fZ^!™™ 8bore is 
well exposed at low tides To tu 16 reef fla t, which k 

"fn island by a na ^ c £ *° ^ separated from h ' 
-'and of Kalpitti, fringed Zh d ° Sma " Uni ^ahite f 
contam.ngonlyafewcocLutretfnir 1 Under ^th an 
of Agath, ,s about 688 acres anH nf V ° entre - Th e are , 
Enciosed between the is! anH ^ , Ka,pitti about 28 aert 
'agoon, the finest to b e ft ^ the reef °» the west f s h 
There are two entrance To ^7 if ^ inhabi ted I n f s ° 

-b^S" ft" 
rocks and its navigation is eTsy " '* f «* fro m c" 

Agath, lst he hottest of the inh.h,, , • , 
construct small sleeping boxes of cad^ "'^^ The men 
they s eep during the hot w eathp ' 1M T he ^ore wh e "e 
«nfert,Ie. An attempt was eS Tf' The ^i] i 
to construct a tottam, land artiSaM earIie ' times 

Reg. No. 604 flulio-Zinoo., Survey OJfice, Madras. 

11 IV2*. 
Copies 512 



20 per cent are 
, t -nn in 1920 was 1,051 of ^ t M elacheries. 
The population * * 19 and 5 o per _ ce " t t ^ on 0 { the 
3 ° Pe Le C :c tt trough the north ^ ied 
Xbe houses are scai glabs ot !\ d so il, each 

island. They are bu.U o {Qund beneath the sandy 

from the beds - of hn *t ^ 2 feet ^f^^s, each 

slab being 2 °2e S contain a number ^ tilate d. There 
tbiGk - T ff thither and all dark and _ 11 -ven q{ cadjans . 
opening off the on The roo f is Aeat hi are on 

° S P a verandah - front. The housemen Aga^ ^ 

Only mosques have t f than on 

the w hole cleaner q{ ^ oW 

^newcutcherry wasbuih in 19*^ t0 be 

- S - utr^rno^no r of Us history ^ 

century pattern, du thwa rds can De 

On the horizon toth h> 

« ninhab ^^ d pl ° tS ^ the th e e se°a a eaten away 
C0Wk ' 1 he- face of Ka^tti. *e jea ha h;ghi . n 
On the souther ^ cUff 6 to of 

the reef ^^tion of the ^ X ointe d out by the 
{ace of which J he Qf these is still P & w 

boles and <*v hi Bi para the ca fc 

the result ot tn destr oyed lathude n° Am, 

either confiscatea ct ly spelt Amur i, 

Am eni (someum^nc abQut miles south 
5 . N . and longitude 7\ 45 of the Sont Kanai ^ 

Man B alore « *ejn n cP o{ ^ a n b ^ 

and th e h ^ts Uw^ 

Surgeon, the q{ 622 acres, , agoon 15 

a mile wide ^an rf and only a ^ JY ffee from 

the interior of » § X he beach on aU si icuous 
le ft on the w f !^ al bl deb ris. There is a very 

anV bank °/ b C e° a ch sandstone on bo h easier ^ ^ ^ 

There are good anchorage so ^ Xhe 

beaches •/ * e ' in boat entrances on is mofe 
W6S : r ; "land is very even g and in^ ^ 

surfaCe °; It above sea level- In ear dy and food 

than ^d by \ tottam or M J for g ^g g to the de pth 
0CCUP but this can never have 




found in the tottams on the Malabar islands and it has long 
since been filled in and almost completely planted up with 
coconut trees. 

Sir W. Robinson in 1845 described the " tot " as occupying 
an extent of 55 acres in the centre of the island and stated 
that an implanted strip of land some 200 yards broad existed 
along the western and southern shores, walled off for grazing 
from the rest of the island. This strip has long since been 
fully planted up. There is now no unoccupied land on the 
island. There are no Pandaram lands on the island. But 
there are a few Government trees, planted by previous 
Monegars and now either held by the nadpal as a service 
inam or granted free of rent to destitute persons. 

The houses of the people are scattered all over the island. 
They are constructed like those on Agathi of slabs of coral 

The cutcherry is a small two-roomed building with a 
porch, situated about 150 yards from the sea, near the middle 
of the western face of the island. Close beside it on the 
south are the Monegar's quarters while a little distance to 
the east are the dispensary, the Sub-Assistant Surgeon's 
quarters, the school, and the Meteorological Station. On the 
sea shore opposite the Cutcherry is a raised stone platform 
with a flight of steps leading down to the beach and 
mounted on the platform are two old cannons said to have 
been taken from the " Mahomed," a pilgrim ship wrecked at 
Ameni in 1854. The Portuguese had a fort on this island, 
all traces of which have now vanished. It was situated just 
north of the Cutcherry. Its foundations were dug up and 
used for building purposes within living memory. The 
Portuguese were poisoned as a result of a conspiracy hatched 
in the mosque still known as the Pambupalli. 

The island is the most populous of the South Kanara group, 
the population in 1920 being 2,148. There are a few rich 
families but the majority of the people are poor and there 
seem to be more utterly destitute persons and destitute main- 
landers on this island than on any other. 

There are the usual three public mosques. The Jamath 
mosque is a large building constructed some 40 years ago 
mainly by the exertions of the then Monegar Mohamed 
Suleiman, who held office for nearly 25 years. On occasions 
of drought it is customary for all the islanders to join to 
rethatch the Nercha Palli and it is believed that this will 
bring the desired rain. 

Clearly visible to the north, some 6 miles away, lies 
Kadamath- The Ameni islanders in early times claimed a 

Beg. No. 504 Helio-Ziuco., Survey Of&oe, MadTas. 

To" 1S24. 
CoDies 512 

Natural Scale - 1 


^ffS^....., Numerous ooral (^H <M 
^^:^:--iT^ heads ^3^^^ 

Sandy fiat 


^g- -No. 504 
Copios 512 

Helio.Ziaoo., Sor^y offloe, Ma , lras 



when it was closed for want of a teacher. It was reopened in 
192 1 a now has a strength of over 100. 

A dispensary was maintained here between 1900 and 1905 
but the people were at that time hardly alive to the benefit of 
European medical treatment and the dispensary was so little 
resorted to that it was decided to close it. 

These are three uninhabited islands enclosed within one Bangaram, 
reef about 5 miles north of Agathi. Bangaram is 115 acres in ^""p^" 
extent, Tinnakara 76-% acres and Parli 10 acres. They lie 
down the long axis of the lagoon and do not touch the reef 
except at the northern end. They are in fact sand banks in 
the middle of the lagoon ; this probably accounts for the 
absence of the lime stone layer upon these islands. Parli is 
still little more than a sandbank and contains only a few trees, 
but the other two islands seem to be extremely fertile. They 
are covered with a dense impenetrable jungle of screw pine. 
Coconuts grow well and it is only the impossibility of finding 
fresh water that has prevented the islands from being 
occupied. An attempt by Sir W. Robinson in 1847 to colonise 
them failed for this reason. These islands strike the visitor 
as being even hotter than Agathi. Bangaram is the southern- 
most of the three islands; Tinnakara lies about 1% miles 
north of it and Parli is about 400 yards north of Tinnakara 
and connected with it except during the monsoon by a strip 
of sand. The reef, which has several feet of water over it 
even at low tide, encloses a magnificent lagoon, about 6 miles 
long by 3% miles wide. Except near Tinnakara where at low 
tide there are only a few inches of water for some distance from 
the shore, the lagoon is very deep, with here and there great 
bosses and plateaux of coral growing up to the surface. The 
fishing in the lagoon is very good. The islands are much 
frequented by men from the other islands who come to fish 
and to cut brush-wood. 

These islands were originally the property of the people 
of Agathi. They were confiscated by the Bibi about 1764 as 
a punishment for the murder of an obnoxious accountant. 
At first, free use of the shoal was allowed to the Agathi 
islanders and a charge of Rs. 400 was made upon them for it 
but subsequently the islands strictly preserved and no one 
was allowed to visit them except when the Bibi's Kariyakar 
went to gather the nuts. Once or twice a year the whole popu- 
lation of Agathis, men, women and children, were required 
to go to the islands and gather cowries for the Pandaram. 
The right of plucking nuts is now auctioned for five years at 
a time and the lease is saddled with the condition that a 
specified number of seedlings must be planted during the 



period of the lease. The lease was sold in IQ20 for Rs. 2,745 
per annum. 

Bitra. Bitra in latitude 11° 33' N. and longitude 72 0 6' E. some 43 

miles north-west of Ameni and 30 miles from Chetlat is the most 
northerly of the Laecadive islands. Although several attempts 
have been made to settle families from the other islands upon 
it, it still remains uninhabited. It is about 1,150 yards long by 
200 yards broad at the widest point and some 26 acres in extent. 
It is situated at the north-east corner of the reef. The island 
is extending gradually on the northern shore and along the 
eastern arc of the reef, but is at the same time being washed 
away to the south inside the lagoon. Its whole shape appears 
to have altered very considerably within the last fifty years- 
The reef encloses a magnificant lagoon, 7 miles long by 3 
miles wide. 

There are about 1,200 coconut trees on the island of which 
some 350 are in bearing. Excluding 75 trees set apart for the 
use of pilgrims visiting the island, the remainder are leased out 
for three years at a time, with a condition requiring the plant- 
ing of a certain number of young trees each year. A small 
shrine contains the tomb of a Pir or saint to which pilgrimages 
are frequently made from the other islands. 

Sir W. Robinson records that up to about the year 1835 the 
island was the breeding ground of countless numbers of sea- 
birds and that the islanders used to collect their eggs in very 
large quantities for food, but that about that year the birds 
suddenly ceased to come. They have never been known to 
breed on the island since. 
Chetlat. Chetlat in latitude Il''44'N. and longitude 72 0 45' E. some 35 

miles almost due north of Ameni is a long narrow island 
about I mile 1,150 yards long by 650 yards wide at the 
broadest point, 255 acres in extent, and occupies the eastern 
arc of the attol. Along the whole eastern side of the island 
is a wide belt of coral debris, evidently the result of some 
severe storm. This belt broadens out at the south till it covers 
the whole southern end of the island. The reef is more 
perfectly circular than is the case in the other islands. The 
lagoon is about M mile wide. The best anchorage for 
steamers is off the southern end of the reef. 

The soil of the island is poor and the yield of the coconut 
trees in consequence not so good as on the other islands. 
The people themselves, all Melacheries, are poor but at the 
same time the thriftiest and most hard-working of all the 
islanders. The island is a model of neatness ; no rubbish or 
debris will be found lying about ; every fallen nut and every 
fallen coconut leaf is utilized for some purpose. The result 


H»lio-Zin<w., Surrey Ofltat, IfadrM. 

Rag. No. 504 


Copfei 6X2 


~™ f ^th^lLds and Chetlat nrst-class ,s 
clsTdeX superior to any coir produced on any of the 
other islands with the exception of Mimcoy. 

The cutcherry is about halfway down the western 
The cutcner y .ncommodious 
of the island, near the shore. ^ ^ 

bUildmg Vt^thab^ ants! the northern and southern ends 

houses of the ^itant , ^ 

bel ng unmhab.ted and not ve y ^ ^ ^ 

trees . South of cutcn Primrose of the F/siVr, 

island is the r tomb of C ^ r who died on Ch etlat while 
wrecked on Chenyapam in 53. stone wag 

^Sed by the crewof the "General Sinpson" wrecked on 

Che Kadirnath 63 6 miles north of Ameni, is 5 miles 150 yards long Kada.aih. 

^ rds wide at the broadest point, situated along the 
by 600 ^ r /; o{ W ^ a g nificen t lagoon 7 V 2 miles long by ifc 
eastern side of a magn . ^ fe exposed a{ , 

mil6S Tt™ ^ leve platform stretching from the sea beach 
tide I ,t 100 yards ^his being the more sheltered side than 
for about 100 y" dS soaking is done in "pits" construc- 

th lagoon be^e ^ ^ ^ ^ gt 

The so n uttrn end of the reef. A high ridge of sand runs down 

^^^^^^^ beiongs to the 

h of Ameni is uninhabited and until 30 or 40 years ago 
people of Amen. con tained few coconut trees 

was covered with th e g ^ scattered 

11 h3 , S rcTh ^ y^n the western side of the island about 
r ° Un f . from ^ southern end. Except for a few small huts 
2 miles from me unin habited and portions 

the northern ha of the u ^ half 

StilUen Tosses P ion o 'the Kadamath islanders themselves. 
bU The n pe P I are al. Melacheries are very poor. Untd 

, JX no one on the island owned trees of his own. All 
about i860 no o ^ exercised a kmd of 

were tenants of the ^ ^ wag 

suzerainty over the .sland an ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ 

their property, in 5 / coast . go i n g boats of their own and 
Kadamath P^^tfhad to be shipped in the 
T Wh : ir Every effU however, was made by Gove rn- 
Amem odams. ^ ve J d by l8 8o the only rights re- 

men \"w e e a rethe P^ exiling between tenant and 

fandtrd and Z Ameni Khazi's religious iurisdiction over 


the Naib Khazi of Kadamath. It was not until 1869 that the 
Kadamath islanders succeeded in building three small coast- 
going boats. 

In 1907 the Ameni Khazi's authority over the Kadamath 
Khazi began to be openly questioned. The dispute aroused 
bitter feeling on Kadamath and was the cause of almost the 
only criminal appeals that have ever been received from that 
island. The Ameni Khazi claimed that the Kadamath Khazi 
was and had always been his Naib or Deputy and that as 
such his approval was required to the appointment of Naib 
Khazi of Kadamath. The monegar decided the case in 
favour of the Ameni Khazi. His decision was confirmed in 
appeal by the inspecting officer in 1908 and by the Collector. 
The people, however, refused to accept this decision and in 
1909 when the Ameni Khazi performed the Kutba in the 
Kadamath mosque, as being Principal Khazi of Kadamath, in 
accordance with the decision, the people refused to attend 
and the Kadamath Khazi resigned. The islanders then 
erected a cadjan mosque and appointed one of themselves to 
read the Kutba in it. The monegar prohibited this but several 
islanders disobeyed him and many more seemed inclined to 
set authority at defiance. Feeling ran very high for some 
years, but a satisfactory compromise has been arranged by 
which the Kadamath congregation makes, the selection but the 
candidate has to obtain the Ameni Khazi's approval before he 
is finally appointed by the Collector. 

The lagoon provides excellent fishing and the Ameni 
islanders regularly resort to it for that purpose. At the date 
of Sir W. Robinson's visit (1845) they used also to come over 
and raise hakkal cultivation (ragi, cholam and Indian corn) 
during the monsoon, but by 1870 this practice had quite 

The island of Kalpeni lies about 44 miles almost due south 
of Androth in latitude 10° 7" N. and longitude 73 0 55" E. It is 
the most southerly of the Laccadives proper. Besides the 
main island there are two small rocky islands to the south- 
west, Thilakkam and Pitti, separated from the main island 
and from each other by narrow channels a few yards wide, 
and about 1% miles to the north but connected by the reef 
flat which is almost dry at low tide is a long narrow island, 
Cheriam. Before the storm of 1847, the main island extended 
northwards along the reef flat almost to Cheriam. All four 
islands are enclosed within the same ring reef which forms the 
eastern shore of Cheriam and Kalpeni and the south-western 
shore of Pitti and Thilakkam and encloses a magnificent 
lagoon over 7 miles in length and about 2 l / z miles broad. The 



two small islands on the south-west with the reef enclose 
between them and the main island a small lagoon through 
which a boat passage leads to the sea. The extreme length 
from the north point of Cheriam to the south point of Kalpeni 
is 7 miles and the greatest breadth about three-quarters of a 
mile. The total area of all four islands is 650 acres ; Kalpeni 
being 494 acres, Cheriam 130 acres, Thilakkam 12% acres 
and Pitti 13%. The main island is about 3 miles long. The 
first mile from the north consists of a narrow strip of sand not 
more than 50 to 100 yards wide. The strip then suddenly 
widens out to about 400 yards and within a very short distance 
further to the south the island attains its maximum breadth. 
Only this broad southern portion of the island is inhabited. 
The houses are scattered through it at considerable distances 
apart. Cheriam is covered with a dense jungle of screw pine, 
killi and chonam. There are a few coconut trees on Cheriam 
which have been planted by islanders in fulfilment of vows 
made when detained by contrary winds or caught in storms 
and the nuts of these trees are used by any islanders coming 
to Cheriam. The existence of these trees made it impossible 
to grant any cowles for land on Cheriam, although there was a 
good demand for them, until 1922, when the scruples of the 
islanders were overcome and the whole island, with the 
exception of a small portion round a mosque, was parcelled out 
into approximately 2-acre plots and these were granted on 
cowle. Large quantities of brush-wood are cut on Cheriam 
and exported to Mangalore. The two smaller islands are 
well planted up. 

A peculiar feature of Kalpeni is the huge storm bank of 
coral debris thrown up by the great storm of 1847 along the 
eastern and south-eastern shore. At the latter point this bank 
attains a height of some 12 feet and is perhaps 60 feet broad 
at the base; along the eastern shore it can still be traced 
inland for a distance of quite 100 yards. Another peculiarity 
is the absence of the sand-stone substratum found in all the 
other inhabited islands. The reef rock is strikingly exposed 
along the eastern side of the sandspit connecting the island 
with Cheriam. It slopes gently eastwards under the water 
and ends abruptly on its "western face in a small " cliff " 4 or 
5 feet above the sand which seems to indicate the previous 
margin of the lagoon before the deposition of the present 
sand bank. For about a mile at the north end of the island 
the lagoon shore is covered with much weathered boulders and 
the reef flat between the main island and Cheriam is even more 
thickly covered with them. These boulders were probably 
carried to their present position by the storm of 1847. A smaller 

9 8 


cyclone early in December IQ22 had cast up a smaller storm 
bank outside the earlier bank, 7 or 8 ft. high in parts and 20 to 
30 yards wide, all along the eastern shore. This new bank 
extends northwards like a natural break water along the reef 
flat between the main island and Cheriam with only one gap 
and if it remains in its present position it seems likely that 
the island will again in course of time extend considerably to 
the northwards. 

The soil of the main island is good in the central and 
southern portion,, but the northern portion is mere sand. In 
the centre is a large tottam, consisting of low arable land, 
excavated by the islanders in former times, in which grains 
and a little coarse paddy, plantains and sweet potatoes, arc- 
grown. It has not been dug out so deep and has not the 
same charm of scenery as the tottam at Androth. The bread 
fruit grows well. There are a few areca palms, one tamarind 
and a few limes- Some betel vines are also cultivated, but on 
the whole the island does not strike the visitor as being so 
fertile as either Androth or Kavarathi. 

The three smaller islands are covered with coral debris 
and are considerably less fertile than the main island. 

There is one good boat passage through the reef near the 
north-western side, a considerable distance from the land- 
ing place and anchorage off the inhabited part of the 
island. There is, however, a passage for small boats through 
the reef into the little lagoon, which was blasted for the 
islanders in 1913. The anchorage for ships is just off the 
south-eastern point and there is a convenient landing place 
on the eastern shore about a mile from the southern end. 
This, however, cannot be used if the sea is rough. 

The cutcherry is on the western shore exactly opposite the 
eastern landing place. There are the usual three public 
mosques, the Moidin Mosque being at the extreme southern 
end of the island, rather picturesquely situated upon the high 
ground formed by the storm beach and surrounded by walls 
of coral stone neatly built without mortar. 

The houses, owingto the absence of sandstone, are built in 
manner peculiar to this island. Stakes formed of the midribs 
of the coconut leaf are driven into the ground in two rows 
about 6 inches apart and the two rows are tied together with 
withies. Sea worn coral stones from the beach are then 
packed in between the two rows of stakes as neatly as possible 
and plastered over on both sides. Sometimes the stakes are 
removed ; often they are left standing. All the houses are 
enclosed with fences of cadjans. 

The population in 1920 was 1,375 of whom 60% are Koyas 
f perhaps 10% Malmies and the remainder Melacheries. The 



pl e are inferior * ^-^U^^S^- 

mulas from the shor to^ ^ , th e^^ £very . 

In consequence ott leave s and n 

of the most untidy. ^ of the 

where. , nds occupy almos northw avds 

The Pandaratn |f n .^„_ d from the Cutcftery k in 

Ttre are ^ ^nted on cow^ ^ contained on y 

the south: a" * were dense ^ jungU . on t.u 

ln 1885 att these land ^ ^ pra end> 
scattered trees ^ at tUe extreme Vadakanche n, 

The island ^ d Meche n. _ s tne great 

TeUancheo, Richer n hl „to ^ Apnl< 

Tb % m t/ C ommenced ^Jween l2 and 3 a.n, 
^^^tr^chedK^. island , bu tacrossthe 

nl \ 60 houses were w hole tengvn , - hic h win 

q rnral stones was V Many W eiis henl 

\oose corai s> {ul lan a. ter , n a .i oi 

was spoilt- n s shak en tin. co 

than the «md a ' ls gre atH. violence. 

tne stability ot the an h r m a> br . skly 

from the westwar 



in the most perfect state of desolation. Of the 348 houses 
standing before the storm, not one escaped. Many were so 
entirely washed away as scarcely to leave vestiges of their 
foundations. All were unroofed and otherwise damaged. All 
the mosques 29 in number were injured and nearly all of them 
at the time of Mr. Robinson's visit were lying in a state of 
ruin. The population of Kalpeni prior to the hurricane is 
reckoned at 1,642- Of these 246 were drowned or washed 
away during the storm. One hundred and twelve perished 
in the ensuing five months from famine or from the diseases 
engendered by unwholesome and insufficient food, 376 escaped 
to the coast, leaving in the island 908 of whom nearly four- 
fiftlis are women and children. 

" The plantations in the island have been entirely destroyed. 
Out of upwards of 105,000 full-grown coconut trees, the 
number before the storm, only 768 are now standing. The 
other trt bread fruit, banana, and betel-nut are likewise ali 
lost." (Board's Proceedings, dated 2nd August 1849.) 

The object of Sir W. RoDinson's visit to the islands in 
1847 was to enquire into the condition of the people after the 
storm and to devise methods for relieving the acute privations 
which it was known they were suffering. Numbers of refugees 
from Kalpeni were settled by him upon Pandaram lands in 
the other islands and large remissions of rents were granted 
for several years. 

Kavarathi. This island lies in latitude 10" 34' N. and longitude 72° 

57' E. Its length is about 3% miles and its greatest breadth 
about % mile, its area is 865^ acres. It is 74 miles from Kal- 
peni and 35 from Agathi. The lagoon is about a mile 
wide. The main entrance is off the north-west point of the 
island and is marked on the west by a small pinnacle of rock 
about 6 feet high which appears to be a portion of the original 
reef left untouched when the remainder was cut down by sea 
action to its present level. There is a good anchorage for 
ships off the south end of the island. All coir is soaked in 
pits on the lagoon beach and the beach is in consequence 
dirtier than on any other island, being strewn with coir debris 
husks and sea weed. There is a conspicuous development of 
beach sandstone along the beach. The southern end of the 
island appears to have been at one time a separate island but is 
now connected with the main island by a narrow strip of land 
about 50 yards wide. On the sea side at this point and ex- 
tending round into the lagoon is a high storm beach composed 
of bits of coral rock and coral debris. The ridges marking 
each successive storm that contributed to this beach can still 
be clearly traced. 



At the northern end of the island is a small pond contain- 
ing brackish water which appears to have been enclosed from 
the lagoon by the throwing up of a storm beach of coral 
debris during some storm. 

There is no well-defined tottam now on this island. It is 
probably represented by a small valley in the centre. The 
only dry crop now cultivated at all extensively is payyar, a 
kind of bean, but yams, sweet potatoes, plantains and brinjals 
are grown in small quantities. 

The population in IQ20 was 1, 606. Of these the Koyas 
form probably 10%, the Malmies 25% and the Melacheries 65%. 
This is therefore the most predominantly Melacheri island of 
the group and in fact the Koya and Malmi classes are believed 
to have been originally Melacheries who arrogated to them- 
selves position and privileges in imitation of the Koya classes 
on the Tarwad islands. Class feeling is in consequence 
perhaps more bitter on this island than on any other. The 
Koyas not only deeply resent any encroachment upon their 
privileges but are always attempting to set up new prerogatives 
while the Melacheries who represent nearly two-thirds of the 
population find even their legitimate efforts to improve their 
condition hotly opposed by the higher classes. Feeling ran 
very high in the two or three years preceding the inspection 
of 1920 and culminated in widespread destruction of betel 
vines, which are mainly grown by the Malmi class, and several 
cases of incendiarism which included the cutcherry, burnt 
down in August 1920. 

The island is divided into four Cheries ; Mecheri on the 
north-west, Tekkecheri to the east with Porakecheri lying 
south of it and Pallicheri south of Mecheri. In Mecheri and 
along the western side the houses are ranged in rows along 
pathways almost like a village. In the; rest of the island they 
are scattered. There are no houses in the southern half of 
the island which is all Pandaram land and was once 
separated from the inhabited portion by a wall. Under the 
Bibi's administration no islander was allowed to go south of 
the wall without a pass from the Bibi's kariyastan. 

The cutcherry was a small incommodious building situated 
about \ x / 2 miles from the northern end of the island. The 
only other Government building on the island is the 
small school about 100 yards north of the cutcherry. The 
mosques are better built than those on the other islands and 
many contain very beautifully carved pillars, while in the 
grave yards are to be found headstones stained a delicate 
green or blue with Arabesque designs and Koranic texts well 
carved upon them. These islanders are noted for their skill 



in carving in both wood and stone. The Jamath mosque is 
a large building and possesses the largest tank of any mosque 
in the islands. The Ujira mosque, recently repaired and 
tiled possesses some particularly finely carved pillars and 
forms with the low arched sheds in front of it the most 
striking group of buildings upon the islands. The only 
other building that requires mention is a small private mosque 
dedicated to a Mussaliyar which has a picturesque tower with 
a large over-hanging thatched roof. 

The Pandaram lands on the island have a complicated 
history. South of the wall in what was known as "the 
forbidden ground " no islander was allowed, under the 
Cannanore regime, to build a house, but quite a number 
obtained permission from the Karyastan to plant coconuts on 
condition that a share of the produce after deducting certain 
mamuls should go as rent to the Pandaram. These came to 
be known as the Padhi-Padhi lands from the system of 
sharing the produce. The arrangement, however, was a 
perpetual source of discord. The islanders were continually 
trying to secure more than their share- of the produce, and 
even if the kariyastans insisted upon the Pandaram's share 
being fairly surrendered by the islanders they almost 
invariably embezzled as large a portion themselves as they 
safely could. The system made thieves of the islanders and 
rogues of the island officials. Mr. Winterbotham sought to 
abolish this arrangement in 1878 and introduce a system of 
cowles at a uniform rent of 10 pallams of first class coir per 
bearing tree or optionally in money at Rs. 1-8-0 per 100 
pallams. Through some misunderstanding, however, his 
orders were not given effect to until Mr. Dumergue's visit in 
1891 when cowles were issued upon the terms arranged by 
Mr. Winterbotham. 

In addition to the Padhi-Padhi holdings in the "forbidden 
ground," there were other plantations planted and managed 
by the Kariyastans on behalf of the Cannanore family. 
Mr. Winterbotham in 1878 introduce a similar system of 
cowles for these also but at varying rates according to the 
condition of the plantations. He also granted cowles for the 
implanted land. 

Other Pandaram lands are the " Nattagathu " lands, i.e., 
those lying scattered through the inhabited portion of the 
island, north of the wall, and the " Idiyakkal " a large 
property escheated for reasons now unknown about 1840. 
These were also given on cowle by Mr. Winterbotham, the 
rent fixed being 15 pallams of coir per tree. Under the 
Cannanore administration, a claim peculiar to this island was 



nnd a tax, 

yards long ^ a eS . Theia6 ds wide- hcrn 

U an area of 397 d ab o it 9^ ^ ^ so 

satnelengthasW { coral a botfi ^ d stance a d> 

■ a ^^an^ the cenU e o ^ h 

ends ot tnc d isapP ertl Th n0 rtneru sQ 
; eastern shore beach. ™ ^goon 

^ inB ar dfor some distance* £ong ^ f »th e ^ 

is continued for causedby some ioo of sanc^ ^ 
andwasevidentiy dine ^ y w l rch 

The^ e Vo much so tha :*c ome S o yard, ^ - nt 0 f 
^g°° n S te of the beach is now ^ rt ber ^ 

on the edge 01 thro ugh the 1 d dr> at iu d _ 
° a boat entrance . g left hign g (S a gooa 

*e islandbut^sthe , n water sideof the i ^ 

eanoplY be used bea ch on the . g rather d* Uy 
ing P^ ce .°" t t cutcherry but h ?os , s no iagoon 
i» st ° PP t ° er plough the reef in ^ _ n plts on 

low ^ er '^ e coir soaking ^ 

eXP ° S • d land on the island ar c ioUS 
shore. „nrcupi ed la • c though notsu 

Mimcoyrs s t southe" lU from 

7 a° 19' E * nd ^ fmiles from Cab^ sbape d, b/8 

^ nd l\ -es in broa^t a 

The island l, mlle s ^ . land lS little sS _ 

long by abom b V n0 rth. the 1 & {eW yard h 

Tsand and at fairly U ^ ate d by a 

ridge °* ^ out and mam SQUtb sep ^ island of 

It then *£en^ p0ltl t. ° is the sm tine 

S atu" garter of a^ ^^s as 
channel abo . ch . fi used by 

Vinng 1111 ' 



station for small-pox patients and as a burial ground for those 
that die there. The lighthouse is about {> mile from the 
southern point. About the middle of the island lies the 
village in which all the inhabitants live. One long path runs 
through it with several smaller ones intersecting it. The 
houses are built in rows along the paths. Each has a court- 
yard in front enclosed with neat cadjan walls and opening into 
the street by a curious swinging screen hung from the top to 
a horizontal pole above. The paths and open spaces are all 
neatly kept and the whole village gives a wonderfully 
pleasing effect of neatness and cleanness. There is a weli 
in nearly every compound and in the open spaces. The wells 
are square in shape with plastered sides. Water is found 
within a short distance of the surface and is drawn by means 
of a coconut shell tied to a long stick. There are several fine 
bathing tanks in the village with plastered sides, steps 
leading down into the water, and parapets. Separate tanks 
are set apart for the women. 

The village is divided into nine Attiris, each with its strip 
of foreshore. The Attiri clubs for men and women have been 
already described. 

The population in 1920 was 3,093, of whom some 4 per cent 
are Malikhans, 6 per cent Malmis, 50 per cent Thakrus and 
40 per cent Raveris. Many of the men earn a livelihood as 
serangs and lascars on merchant vessels and are absent from 
the island for two or three years at a time. For this reason 
the women always predominate considerably over the men in 
numbers. A proposal to make Minicoy a special recruiting 
ground for the R.I.M. is under consideration. 

A little over a mile north of the village is the leper 
settlement where the islanders segregate all persons declared 
by the Khazi to have leprosy. The population of the settle- 
ment varies from 10 to over 30. They receive a free dole of 
rice from Government and are supposed to be also provided 
for by their relations but most of them belong to the very 
poorest class and have practically to maintain themselves 
upon the Government ration. 

The cutcherry is just beyond the village on the south. 
The islanders built and maintained for some years in front of 
it on the shore a small wooden jetty, but this has now- 
disappeared. There are only two public mosques, the Jamath 
and the Moidin, but there are about 20 small private mosques. 

The lagoon is a magnificent expanse of water about 6 miles 
long by 2 miles wide- It is very shallow towards the 
southern end of the island, and indeed at this point is almost 
dry at low water, but to the north and along the seaward side 



it is deeper than any of the other lagoons and there is plenty 
of water close inshore for the large island brigs. Great 
bosses of coral rise here and there almost to the surface and 
make the navigation somewhat dangerous, but the people 
have marked out a safe channel to the passage through the 
reef by means of tripods made of long poles wedged into the 
coral bosses. A wooden beacon on the reef marks the one 
safe anchorage for ships, off the south-west end of the reef. 

Unlike the other islands, Minicoy has never been subject 
to the coir monopoly. The chief sources of revenue were 
instead, under Cannanore rule, rent amounting to Rs. 780 
paid by seven Malikhans for certain land held on Valiapattam, 
Attiri Pattam (sea shore rent) amounting to Rs. 264 paid by 
112 islanders, the Allara, a poll tax, assessed by households 
by the Mukries of the Jamath mosque at the rate of 20 pounds 
coir for a man and 5 pounds for a woman per annum, Mali- 
khans and all unmarried adults, being exempt, a tax on 
tappers at 45 Adubas of jaggery a year, a tax of 5 candies of 
rice a year on each large vessel and of 50 dried mas fish on 
each mas boat. In addition there was a cowry monopoly and 
the produce of the Pandaram lands, which comprised the 
whole island except the village site and a little private land 
around it. The Valiapattam in respect of any lands still so 
held, the Attiri pattam, the tapping tax and the poll tax are 
still paid, but the tax on boats and the cowry monopoly have 
been abolished. The system of managing the Pandaram 
lands continued until 1912 when Mr. Innes handed over to the 
islanders on a 30 years' lease the Great South Pandaram 
which extends from the cutcherry southwards and includes 
the greater portion of the island. 

The Mas fishing, an industry peculiar to Minicoy, has 
already been mentioned. Coir, although not a monopoly, is 
extensively manufactured and is of considerably superior 
quality to that produced on the other islands. 

There is no restriction upon trade such as results on the 
other islands from the Kudian system. The larger vessels 
voyage via Colombo even as far as Rangoon and Calcutta. 
This trade was until the late eighties of last century the mono- 
• poly of the richest man on the island, Dom Malikhan, who was 
famous throughout the Laccadives as " the Capithan." After 
his death his successors found it too expensive to maintain 
the longer voyages and his "brigs" were allowed to get 
into disrepair. Of recent years, however, the voyages have 
been revived again. One of his brigs has been bough ■ 
and repaired by the islanders out of the proceeds of the 



Great South Pandaram since it was handed over to their 
management, and is now being sailed by them as a 
co-operative enterprise to Calcutta. 

The local trade on Minicoy which previously had also 
been Dom Malikhan's monopoly is now in the hands of some 
half a dozen Moplah traders from Cannanore who have set up 
shops and sell the ordinary bazaar commodities for coir, mas 
fish, or jaggery, and make enormous profits. 

The health of the island is now good although at one time 
a particularly deadly form of malaria existed. In 1834 two of 
the East India Company's Naval officers who carried out the 
survey of Minicoy along with that of the Maldives, died of 
fever contracted on the island, and in 1883 Mr. Underwood 
and the members of his party, who made a long stay upon the 
island, suffered very severely. Of late years, however, mala- 
ria appears to have disappeared and the lighthouse keepers 
find Minicoy a healthy station. But mosquitos of the Culex 
variety occur in incredible numbers and constitute such a 
pest that even the islanders themselves are forced to sleep 
under mosquito curtains. Their breeding grounds appear to 
be, not the tanks and wells, but the coir pits and the rat eaten 
coconuts which fall from the trees and get filled with water 
during the monsoon. Every pit and every rat-eaten nut con- 
taining water will be found to be swarming with mosquito 
larvae, but a careful examination of the tanks and wells has 
so far failed to disclose any larvae in them. 

The nine Attiris into which the village is divided are, 
from north to south : — 

Hanimagu or Ramadth. 




Bodu or Oyikolu. 

The Varangies have the same names with the exception of 
those corresponding to Bada and Raveri which are known as 
Kolu and Digu Varangies. 

Pitti is a small reef about 15 miles north-west of Kava- 
rathi with a small sand-bank at its southern end. The 
Kavarathi islanders visit it for fishing and to collect the eggs 
of the numerous sea-birds which breed there between January 
and March. Major Alcock's description of his visit to the 
island during the breeding season has already been quoted 
(page 13). 

The island has been leased to the Kavarathi Gumasthan 
since 191 3 but up to 1920 he had been unable to get any 

Observation sp^^^*-^ 


Boat Enwnce • . . 


'.Boat Entrance 



'■ Boat Entrance 

': 8 


Bom Entrew-'e 


\ Good Bom Bnttw»W 



iMfe*"* lit »*4 

■ % - 

C>x»ri>» Kara g 



Natural Sofcb jgi fvofi 


Reg. No. 604 

Copies 512 

'-it-... . . 


. „ ■ c.„.v-v Office, M»d<*» 


of the crabs an Sahe u P ai. 
• s to the ravages oi 

the slaodere v>s> ^ 40 outn ^ apart , VaU>a 
»' ,ta h "T«.t "hi been s»««f a ^ large r ^ at er 

^T^'v-Sb scattered coco,™. oo scre „,„e - ^ 

jungle m *> - is , a „ds, rt co commonest 

tangle °° * e «" of „nous k, " d V r creeping shru f sma ller 

lag °° n nthe south and east wh« d it co ^ 

daUy on the s the northern cheI uthalam and ^ 

at low tide U - n parts ^ long graB8 ^ of 

j ung le but*' o parts Wlth coar ^ the c en ^ 

C ° Wt ned These sheds on the north ^ 

obtained. up temporary hgaps of fen t 

The visors P islan d where la & paU on. ^ the 


Many miracles are ascribed to him and it is customary to 
invoke his aid in storms or when delayed by adverse winds. 

Suheli was formerly the private property of the Kavarathi 
islanders but was confiscated about 1765 in punishment for a 
suspected conspiracy and the murder of a Kariyakar of Kava- 
rathi. It was managed by the Raja's agent at Kavarathi 
and is now in the charge the Kavarathi Amin. The right of 
olucking the nuts is now auctioned for five years at a time 
■vith a condition regarding the planting of fresh trees. The 
lease in 1920 fetched Rs. 1,505 per annum. But for the fact 
that Suheli became Pandaram property it would probably 
long ago have been colonised, for the water difficulty, on the 
southern island at least, seems to have been greatly exagge- 
rated. Sir W. Robinson in 1848 attempted to found a colony 
of 200 emigrants from Kalpeni and Androth after the -great 
storm, but the Bibi's Government naturally did not encourage 
the enterprise and it is hardly surprising that when the 
islands began to recover from the effects of the storm these 
people returned to their homes. 



Distances between the Laccadive Islands. 


123 Androth. 

175 58 Ameni. 

207 99 43 Bitra. 

!7 8 76 35 3° Chetlat. 

x 6o 55 32 48 20 Kiltan. 

z°7 85 33 4 3 5 6 60 Agathi. 

187 64 35 67 68 62 31 Kavarathi. 

2 jo 89 62 90 95 91 44 29 Suhelipar. 

143 47 81 123 111 95 96^ 67 76 Kalpeni. 

240 158 168 203 204 187 160 136 118 114 Minicoy. 













1848. 1869. j 1876. 1880. I 1891. 1902. 191 1 













fi 1 




, ! 



3.73°i 3>°9 8 ! 3. 6 24 

I j 

2,126! 1,953' 1,606 



i.3i7j ',5i3 









574 f 

2,272 2,r5r 


723 ; 




! . 6 43j 1.375 

2,441 2,708) 2,492 

1,965: 1,968! 2,148 

326 487! 577 


719: 761 
77i 675 








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APPENDIX lll—coni. 




Malabar Islands. 



o • 








68,514 I2,OI4j 

6,4a! 1 2,86,169 




5°, 749; 



t ,026: 

1. 179 




RS. i 











e . 

« 2 



40.23 «i 

3 6 .9S9j 


RS. I 




4 ,4 1 1 1 



2,50,859 25,017 2,75,876 

41,810 4,170 



Name of officers. 


Malabar Laccadives and minicoy. 








Lieut. Bentley ... 

Mr. (Sir) W. Robinson. 

„ E. C. V. Thomas ... 

„ E. C. F. Thomas ... 

„ W. Logan 

J. B. Spedding ... 
II. M. Winter- 

II. M. Winter. 

botham . 
V. A. Brodie 
W. G. Underwood. 
G. W. Dance 

Head Assistant 

Special Assistant 


Sub-Collector ... 

Special Assistant 
Col lector. 


Head Assistant 












Name of officers. 


Date of 


Malabar Laccadives and Minicoy— cont. 


13. Mr. W. Logan ... 

14. „ G. W. Dance 









J. Twigg ... 
VV. Dumergue 

J. Hewetson 
R. F. Austin 

G. H. B. fackson 
C. W. E. Cotton 
C. W. K. Cotton 

E. F. Thomas 

|. K. Lancashire 
R. H. Ellis .. 

R. II. Ellis... 
\V. A. Doig 
W. Rabjohns 

F. B. Evans 

R. II. Ellis 
R. II. Ellis 

Head As^stant 

Sub-Collector ... 
Special Assistant 

Head Assistant 
Col lector. 






Special Assistant 

Sub-Collector ... 











South Kanara Islands. 



(Sir) \V. Robinson. 

Assistant Col- 




» » 

E. C. G. Seweli ... 


Dec. 1865 
to Jan. 


F. E. Hall 





G. Stokes 





H. Bradley 




Shujat Ali 

Head Assistant 




D. W. G. Cowie ... 




A.M. Slight 




M. E. Couchman ... 

Assistant Col- 



A. V. G. Moscardi. 


J 899 



A . F. G. Moscardi . 

Head Assistant 



W. A. Doig 

Assistant Col- 



J. K. Lancashire ... 

Head Assistant 





J. K. Lancashire .. 





W. A. Doig 




J. F. Hall 



(Inspected the 
South Kanara 
group also. 
Only Minicoy and 

Inspected the South 
Kanara group also. 




Agathi ... ... N. Tan. Agathi S. 74$° W. 

W. Tan. in transit with W. Tan. 

of Kalpitti S. 31^° W. in 4^ fathoms. 
Ameni ... ... Left Tan. Kadamath N. 31 0 E. 

Left Tan. Ameni N. 64 0 E. 

Cutcherry S. 74° E. in 3! fathoms. 
Androth ... ... Mosque among boat sheds round harbour 

S. 18 0 E. at 2 8 cables in 4 fathoms. 
Bangaram ... ... Right Tan. Tinnakera N. 86° E. 

Right Tan. Bangaram E. 

Left Tan. Bangaram S. 73 0 E. 

Centre of Agathi S. 29 0 W. in 5 J fathoms. 
Bitra ... ... East extremity of island N. 2 5 0 W . about 

I M. Distant in 11 fathoms. 
Chetlat Left Tan. N. 53 0 W. 

South end of Centre part of reef S. 7 6° E. 

Right Tan. S. 37° E. in 4 fathoms. 
Kadamath ... ... Left Tan. Kadamath N. 455 0 E. 

Right Tan. Kadamath S. f E. 

Left Tan. Ameni S. 15s 0 W. in 4 fathoms. 
Kalpeni ... ... Mosque No. 7° E. at 3 cables. 

in 6^ fathoms. 

Kavarathi ... ... South Tan. N. 87° E at 45 cables 

in 4 fathoms. 

Kilten ... ... N.W. Point bearing \° S. 795° E. at 2-2 

Cables in 3I fathoms. 
Minicoy ... ... Smallpcx island. S. 5° E.] 

Light-house. S. 25 0 E. > (T) 
Beacon on reef. S. 69 0 E.J 

Suheli South island S. 24° W. 

Right Tan. of North island S. 4 0 W. 
Left Tan. of North island S. 13° E. in 
5^ fathoms. 



[The Laccadive Islands and Minicoy Regulation, 191 2.] 

[Received the assent of the Governor-General on the 22nd January J912; 
published in the Gazette of India on the 3rd February 191 2 and in 
the Fort Saint George Gazette Extraordinary on the 1st idem.] 

A Regulation to declare the Law applicable to the 
Laccadive Islands and Minicoy. 

Whereas it is expedient to declare the law applicable to the Laccadive 
Islands and Minicoy ; It is hereby enacted as follows : — ■ 


1. (1) This Regulation may be called the Laccadive Islands and Short title 
Minicoy Regulation, 1912 ; and and extent. 

(2) It extends to the Laccadive Islands and Minicoy. 

2. In this Regulation, unless there is anything repugnant in the subject Definitions, 
or context, — 

(i) " the islands " mean the Laccadive Islands and Minicoy : 
(ii) " the Inspecting officer " means any officer directed by the Local 
Government or Collector to inspect the islands or any of them : 

jV (iii) words and expressions used herein and defined in the Indian 
Penal Code 1 have the same meaning respectively attributed to 
So. them in that Code. 

Law Applicable. 

of 3. Notwithstanding anything in any enactment now in force, this Regu- Law appii- 
19. lation, the 2 Madras State Prisoners Regulation, 1819, the 3 State Prisoners cable. 
[ °f Act, 1858, and the ''Scheduled Districts Act, 1874, shall be the only enact- 
5 .f , ments in force in the islands. 

V of 

1 General Acts, Vol. I. 2 Supra. 

3 General Acts, Vol. I. * General Acts, Vol. II. 



triable by 
officer or 


jffences and 


Criminal Justice. 

4. (?) Whoever commits any of the following offences shall be liable 
to the punishment mentioned below in respect of such offence : — 

Rioting ... . .. ... ... Imprisonment which may extend to two years, or 

fine, or both. 

Givin"" false evidence ... ... Imprisonment which may extend to seven years, 

and fine. 

Murder ... ... ■•• •■ Death or transportation for life. 

Culpable homicide not amounting Transportation for life or imprisonment which 

to murder. may extend to ten years. 

Causing death bv rash or negligent Imprisonment which may extend to two years, 
act. " ox fine. 

Imprisonment which may extend to seven years, 
and fine. 

Imprisonment which may extend to one year, or 

Imprisonment which may extend to seven years, 
and fine. 

Transportation for life or imprisonment which may 

extend to ten years, and fine. 
Imprisonment which may extend to three years, 

or fine, or both. 
Rigorous imprisonment which may extend to ten 

years, and fine. 
Transportation for life, or rigorous imprisonment 

which may extend to ten years, and fine. 
Imprisonment which may extend to two years, or 

fine, or both. 
Imprisonment which may extend to three years, or 
line, or both. 

Dishonestly receiving stolen pro- Imprisonment which may extend to three years, 

pevty. ov fine, or both. 

Cheating ... ... ... ■•• Imprisonment which may extend to one year, 

or fine, or both. 

Mischief by fire ... ... ... Imprisonment which may extend to seven years, 

and fine. 

... Imprisonment which may extend to two years, 
or fine. 

Grievous hurt 
Wrongful confinement 
Kidnapping ... 
Rape ... 



Criminal misappropriation 
Criminal breach of trust ., 


(2) When any offence specified in sub-section (/) has been committed, 
the local amin shall hold an investigation, and, if a prima facie case is 
made out against any person, such person shall be charged before and 
tried by the Inspecting officer or the Collector or any of the Collector's 
assistants empowered by him by general or special order in this behalf. 

(j) The Inspecting officer or the Collector or any assistant of the 
Collector empowered under sub-section (?), when trying a case in accord- 
ance with sub-section (2), shall, when the trial is held in the islands, sit 
with two or more island assessors. 

5. Whoever — 

(a) commits any of the following offences, namely : — • 

theft, criminal force, assault, hurt, criminal trespass, 
{b) uses abusive language to another, 

(c) obstructs any person in seizing stray cattle, 

(d) without reasonable cause fails to attend the kachahri when ordered 

to do so, 



(e) causes mischief to property otherwise than by lire, 
(/) makes any imputation concerning any person knowing that such 

imputation is liable to harm the reputation of the person, 
(g) being convicted or charged with an offence and being in lawful 
custody escapes from such custody, 
)n conviction by the amin shall be punishable with imprisonment for a 
erm which may extend to fifteen days, or with fine which may extend to 
ifteen rupees, or with both. 

6. Subject to the control of the Governor-General in Council, the Addition to 
jovernor in Council may, by notification in the Fort St. George Gazette, 
tdd to the list of offences specified in section 4, sub-section (/), and 
section 5, and prescribe the punishments for the offences so added. 

7 . Whoever fails to give information of a birth or death in his house Failure to 

shall be punishable with fine which may extend to five rupees. S lve infor- 

mation of 

list of 

birth or 

8. (-0 Whoever, when ordered to do so by the amin, 

Failure to 

... . . . • , obey reason- 

(«) fails to assist in launching or drawing up a boat, a t,i e or( j er 0 f 

(b) fails to attend when called upon to assist in protecting coconut amin. 
plantations from the ravages of rats, 
shall be punishable with fine which may extend to two rupees : 

Provided that a fine imposed under clause (b) may be refunded if the 
offender within forty-eight hours makes reparation to the satisfaction of the 
amin and assessors. 

(2) Whoever, in a case not provided for by sub-section (/), disobeys 
any reasonable order of an amin or other public servant, shall be punish- 
able with imprisonment which may extend to fifteen days, or fine which may 
extend to fifteen rupees, or with both. 

9. (/) The local amin of each island shall have jurisdiction to try 

I unsdiclK 

persons accused of offences specified in sections 5 to 8 in the island and and consti- 
inflict on persons found guilty of any such offence the punishment prescrib- tutlon of 
ed therefor. fourr ° r 

(2) The local amin in the exercise of such jurisdiction shall sit with 
four or more assessors called karnavars in the islands. Such assessors 
shall be specially appointed by the Collector or Inspecting officer for life, 
subject to good behaviour. 

(j) Whenever an amin is of opinion that an accused person tried before 
him is guilty of an offence specified in section 5 or in section S ; sub- 
section (2), and ought to receive a more severe punishment than he is 
empowered to inflict, he shall submit his proceedings, and forward the 
accused, to the Inspecting officer or the Collector, and such officer may 
pass such order as he thinks fit : Provided that he shall not pass any 
sentence of imprisonment exceeding one year. 

10. (1) The amin may take cognizance of cases on complaint or ~n procedure 
his own initiative. of amin in 

(2) In every case the amin shall make a memorandum of the evidence criminal 
of the prosecution witnesses, the plea of the accused, and the evidence of 
the defence witnesses. 




jr transfer 
!iv Collector. 

from deci- 
sions of 

decision of 
ihe Island. 
\ nspecting 
officer ov 

from the 

So second 

as to stamps. 

of appeal. 

: Representa- 
tion of 


; Detention 
jol convicts 
!in comoon 
jail in cer- 
tain cast's. 

(j) The evidence shail be taken in the presence of the accused, and the 
accused and the complainant shall be allowed to cross-examine the witnesses 
for the other side. 

(4) The amin shall deliver a written judgment, recording therein the 
opinions of the assessors sitting with him and the reasons for his own 

11. (/) The Collector may withdraw to his own file any case pending 
before the Inspecting officer or an amin. 

(2) The Collector may transfer any case pending before himself or 
before the Inspecting officer to any of his Divisional officers for trial. 

The Inspecting officer may withdraw to his own file any case pending 
before an amin. 

12. From any sentence or order passed by an amin an appeal shall lie 
either to the Collector or the Inspecting officer in cases in which the Col- 
lector or the Inspecting officer grants special leave to appeal. 

13. Any person convicted by the Inspecting officer or by a Divisional 
officer may appeal (a) to ,he High Court if the sentence is one of death or 
of imprisonment for five years or upwards, and (6) to the Collector in other 
cases if the sentence exceeds three months' imprisonment or one hundred 
rupees fine. 

14. from any sentence or order passed by the Collector as a Court of 
original criminal jurisdiction an appeal shall lie to the High Court. 

15. No second appeal shall lie in any case whatever. 

16. Every appeal shall be stamped with an eight-anna stamp, and shall 
be accompanied by a copy on stamped copy paper of the judgment or order 
appealed against : 

Provided that nothing in this section shall apply to an appeal by a 

17. Every appeal shall be filed within six months from the date of the 
judgment or order appealed against : 

Provided that the months of June, July, August and September shall be 
excluded in reckoning such period. 

18. No pleader shall be allowed in any Court except with the special 
permission of the Collector. Parties may, however, be represented by their 
island mukhtyars. 

19. Every mukhtyar, appearing before a Court on the mainland on 
behalf of a party in the islands, must produce a stamped mukhtyarnama or 
power-of-attorney bearing a court-fee stamp of eight annas. 

20. Any person convicted of a criminal offence and sentenced to a 
terra of imprisonment exceeding two months by a Court on the islands, or 
to any term of imprisonment by a Court on the mainland, may be sent for 
imprisonment to the Cannanore Central Jail. 



Civil Justice. 

21. All questions relating to any rights claimed or set up in the 'Civil 
Courts of the islands shall be determined in accordance with any custom not 
manifestly unjust or immoral governing the parties or property concerned, 
and. in the absence of any such custom, according to justice, equity and 
good conscience. 

22. The local amin of each island sitting with four or more assessors 
shall be the Civil Court for the island, and shall have jurisdiction over all 
civil claims arising therein. 

23. Every suit shall be commenced by presenting a plaint to the amin 
having jurisdiction over the suit. 

24. The Collector or the inspecting officer may transfer any civil suit 
to his own file and shall then proceed to try it sitting with two or more of 
the island assessors. The Collector may transfer any such suit from his 
own file to that of any of his Divisional officers, who shall proceed to trv 
the case with two or more such assessors. 

25. (/) The Collector or the Inspecting officer may refer any case for 
disposal or report to two or more of the island assessors. When it is re- 
ferred for disposal, the assessors shall report their decision to the Court 
referring the case. 

(2) The parties may challenge any assessor, and on sufficient reason 
being given another assessor shall be selected in his place. 

(j) The parties shall be allowed to attend the hearing of the suit in 
person or by a mukhtyar, and the evidence shall lie taken in open Court. 

(4) The officer trying the suit shall make a memorandum of the evidence 
of each witness as it is given, and shall, after the conclusion of the hearing, 
pronounce judgment in open Court either in the presence of the parties or 
after notice to them. The judgment shall be in writing and shall contain 
the points for determination and the decision thereon. 

26- (f) An appeal shall lie from the decision of the amin to the 
Inspecting officer or to the Collector. The Collector may transfer any such 
appeal to the Inspecting officer or any other of his Divisional officers for 

(2) No appeal shall ordinarily lie from a decision of the Inspecting 
officer in the exercise of his original jurisdiction, but an appeal may be 
admitted by the Collector if sufficient grounds are shown, from a decision 
of a Divisional officer in the exercise of his original jurisdiction an appeal 
shall lie to the Collector. 

(j) Save as otherwise provided in section 3 1 , an appeal shall lie to the 
High Court from any decision of the Collector in the exercise of bis original 

27. The provisions of sections 15, 16, 17. 18 and 19 shall also apply 
to civil cases. 

28- All decrees shall ordinarily be executed by the amin of the island 
where the suit was instituted. Hut the Collector or the Inspecting officer 
may execute his own decrees if convenient. 

Law to l>e 
tered in 
Civil Courts. 

Cor.sti; ution 
of Civil 

Comim ncr- 
ment of suit. 


Keference tn 

A p|>eals. 

of certa in 
sections to 
civil cases. 

of deciees. 




mil sale. 

Service of 

Saving of 
jowet of 
Jieii Comi . 

29. IF a judgment-debtor wilfully refuses to obey the decree of the 
Court, he shall be liable to punishment under section 8, sub-section (_?), 
ana where the a nun is of opinion that such punishment is inadequate, the 
procedure prescribed in section o, sub-section (j), shall be followed. 

30. Cases in which attachment and sale of property is found necessary 
shall be reserved for the Inspecting officer, who shall attach the property of 
the judgment-debtor and sell it in execution of the decree, 

31. Decrees or processes issued by a mainland Court against a!) 
islander, or by one island Court against a person residing in another island, 
shall be forwarded to the Collector for execution : and he shall cause it to 
be executed unless for reasons to be recorded in writing he may consider 
execution inadvisable, in which case he may refuse to execute it. In the 
case of any such refusal an appeal shall lie to the Governor in Council. 

32. Nothing in this Regulation shall be deemed to limit or otherwise 
affect the inherent power of a Civil Court to make such orders as may be 
necessary for the ends of justice or to prevent abuse of the powers of the 

I'ower of 
iovernor in 
Council to 
)f mainland 
rom islands. 


33. The Governor in Council may by order prohibit persons residing 
on the mainland from visiting or taking up their residence in the islands, 
and may require persons ordinarily residing on the mainland who have 
taken up their residence in the islands to leave the islands ; and he may 
make such rules as he deems fit in pursuance of the above. 

Enlarged from the map 
in the 

Ordinary ScaU of Miiea 
3) V> 9 W 

N f.gT| Cfiu. MIL£S 

Burn P^r a'- 

» Ki!t.»n 
4/ h.-.damath 

.» .:*"!">« >' • /KHIp.-oi 





1 I 

Helio-Zinco , Survey Office, tfadtu. 





Accounts, scrutiny of — , 38. 
Acts in force, 36, 37, 38. 
AgatW, 4, 5, 88. 89. 
Alcock, Major |, 12, 13. 
AU Raja, 17. 
AUara, 02. 
Amelia, the. 33. 
Ameni, 81), 90. 

Amindivis, compensation for, 19, 20. 
Amins, 37. 

Anchorages, Hz, 113. 
Androth, :, 2, 16, 91,92,93. 

khazvship, 16. 
Aphalem, 57. 
Appeals, 37. 
Appeal time, 38. 
Arab traders, 16, 
Atoll, 2. 

Attachment of islands, 20, 21. 


Bangaram, 60, 93. 

Beach sandstone, 5. 

Beche de nier, 85. 

Ee'aischa property, 75. 

Belliaricha properly, 75. 

Bentley, 18, 19, 24- 

Bibi of Cannanore, 18, 19 22. 

Bir, 73- 

Hirds, 12, 13, 94- 
Birth ceremonies, 73. 
Bitra, 13, 6t, 94. 
Boat building, 81. 
Benito, 84, 85. 
Byramgore reef, 2. 

:he, 33- 


Cannanore Rajas, S7, 20. 
Cap making, 86. 
Carving, lol. 
Ceremonies, birth, 73, 

boat building, 74. 
,, death, 74. 

ear-boring, 73- 
Ceylon, the, 33. 
Cheriam, 96, 97. 
Cheriyapuni, z. 
Chettat, 2, 4, 94, 95- 
Chirakkal Raja, 16, 17, 18. 
Cholera, 39. 

Chuttn Karaima, 56, 103. 

Circumcision, 73, 

Classes, 69, 70, 71. 

Clubs, feasting, 74. 
,, Minicoy, 77- 
i Coconut, cultivation, 86. 
' ' ,, monopoly, 24- 
j Coir monopoly. See Monopolies. 
' ,, sorting, 43, 45, 4 6 - 
' ,, twisting, 85, 86. 
j Conglomerate, 4, 7, 8. 

Conversion, to Muhammedanism. 16, 
i Coradive, l. 

; Coral islands, formation of. 5, 6, 7, 8. 
Cotton, 9. 

Cowies. 26, 28, 57, 5S, 59, 63. 
■ Cowry fishing, 93. 
i ,, monopoly, 24, 6!. 
i Crabs, 10, 11, 13- 

Crow, 12. 

Currents, 3. 


Dal la 1, 70. 

Dance, G. W., 26, 
: Dancers, Minicoy, 77. 
! Darwin, C, 5, 6, 7. 

Deputy Collector, Head-quarters, powers 
, of, 38. 

i Dispensary, Ameni, 39. 
I ,, Androth, 40. 

,, Minicoy, 40. 

Divorce, 73. 

Dress, 7s. 


Elikaipeni, I. 
Emden, the, 30. 

Export duty, proposed, 50, 51, 52, S4> 

Fasts, 66. 
Fauna, 10, 1 1 , 

,, marine, similarity to 
Indian, 11. 
Feasts, 72, 73, 74- 
Fishes, 11. 
Fishing, 81. 
Flora, 9. 
Francis, W., 22. 


Gardiner, Prof. S., 6, 7, 8,9- 
Goldsmiths, 66. 
Gumasthans, 37. 




Harpoons. S3, 
llavar, 78. 

Hawksbill Turtle, 13. 
Hindus, 66. 
Holothurians, 85. 


Idiyakkal lands, 56, 6g, 102. 
I.L.R., XIII Madras, 353, 22. 
Indebtedness, 25. 
Innes, C. A., 28. 
Inspections, 31, 32, 39. 


jaggery, 65, 86. 

Jewelry, 72. " 


Kadamath, 4, 15, 91, 95. 
Kalpeni, 4, 96, 97, 98, go. 
Kalpitti, 88. 
ICarani, 35, 36. 
Kariyakars, 35, 37. 
Kavarathi, 2, 100, 101, 102. 
Kavarcha, 17, 89. 
Khazi, Ameni, 15, 95. 
, , Androth, 16. 

,, Kadamath, dispute about, 15, 95. 
Kiltan, 6q. 
Kiltan, 5, 103. 
Koyas, 70. 
Krakatoa, 9. 
Kudian, 70, 75 76. 
Kudiyati, 69. 


Lagoon, 4. 

Lancashire, J. K. 54. 

Land assessment, proposed, 50, 53- 

Language, 67. 6S. 

Laws, 71. 

Lepers, 104. 

Lighthouse, Minicoy, 34. 
Limes, 9, 10. 
Limestone beds, 5. 

Logan, W. 20, 26. 47. 50, 51, 52, 53, 57. 

Mahabtishwar, the, 33. 
Mahl, 68. 
Malaria, 105. 
Malikhan, 76. 

Uom Ali, 26, 28, 81, 105. 
Malmi, 70, 76. 
Mangalore, Treaty of. 17. 
Manikka, 76. 

Margaret Northcote, the, 31. 
Margarita, the, 31. 
Marriage, 72. 

Mas boats, 84. 
' ,, fishing, 83, 84. 

Medical aid, 39. 
! Melacheries, 69, 70, 71, 72. 

Midwife, 39. 

Minicoy, 26, 62, 63, 64, 103, 104, 105. 
brigs, 30. 
,, classes, 76. 
, , customs, 77. 
,, dress, 78, 79. 
, , inheritance, 76. 
,, sanitory laws, 77. 
1 Mohammad, the, 33. 
Moncgar, 35, 36. 

, , powers of, 36, 
Monopolies, ambergris, 61. 

,, coconut, 24 26, 61. 

„ coir, 17, 19, 21, 24, 25, 42- 

i 55 ' 

; ,, cowry, 24, 61. 

,, on imports, 24. 

,, tobacco, 25, 26. 

,, tortoise shell, 61. 

Morinda Citron, 9. 

Mosqus, 66. 

1 Mosquitoes, 105. 

: Muhammad Ali Raja, 22. 

Muhammadamsm, 66. 

, , conversion to, 16. 

Mukri, 69. 

Munbe MSliyakas, 16. 

Munzal, 1. 1 

Muthalals, 35. 


Natagathu lvaraima, 56, 102. 
Negro-heads, 5. 
Nets, fishing, 81. 
Nicholson, Lady, the, 32. 


Officers, inspecting, in , ti2. 


Padhi-Padhi. 56, 58, [02. 
Paimash, 58. 

Paudaram, 55, 56. 57, 58, 102. 

„ IHg South, 26, 29, 30, 63, 105. 
Parli, 93. 

Pattom, Valiya, 62. 

,, Atteri, 62. 
Peile, Mr. Principal Collector, 19. 
Phalam, 37. 
Pitti, 13, 61, 106. 

„ (Kalpeni), 96. 
Poi — min, 83. 
Polltax, 62. 

, , on tappers, 65. 
Poor fund, the, 33, 40. 



Population, 109. 
Portuguese, the, 16, 17. 
Primrose, tomb of, 33, 9S. 
Property, in trees only, 75. 
Pumice, 9. 


Rainfall, 3. 
Rats, 13, 26, S7. 
Raveri, 76. 
Reef, 2. 3. 

,, Hat, 3. 

,, platform, 4. 
Reforms, the, 38. 
Regulation I of 1912, 38. 
Religion, 66. 
Revenue, 41, 51. 
Rhinoceros beetle, 87. 
Robinson, Sir W.. 24, 40, 43, 60, too. 


Salt, duty free, 45. 
Scheduled Districts Act, 23, 36. 
Schools, 40, 41. 
Screwpine, 10. 
Seringapatam, Peace of, 18. 
Service tenure, 75, 76. 
Sesostris, I. 

Settlement, Garlist, 15. 

Sheikh Inde Veetil family, 67, jc, 92. 

Simpson, General, the, 33. 

Singing parties, 71, 72. 

Skates, 11. 

Snake boats, 77, 78. 

Sovereignty, assumption of, 22, 25. 

,, dispute regarding, t8, 19, 
Storms, 2, 92, 99, 103. 
Storm beach, 5, 8, 97. 
Subeli, 59, 60, 107, 10S. 
Sub-monegar, chetlet, 36. 
Sumptuary laws, 71. 


Takras, 27, 2$, 76. 
Tate, A.C. 52. 
Tanakampranavar, 69. 

, Taraivad, class, 59. 

„ Islands , 15, 70. 
1 Temperature, 2. 

Tenancy Customs, 75. 
j Thilakkam, 96. 
I Thomas, H. S-, 44. 

Tides, 3. 
i Tingalaricha property, 7;. 
■ Tinnakara, 93. 
' Tippu Sultan, 17, 18. 
j Toddy, sweet, 86. 

T omb stones, 74. 
[ Tortoise shell, 12. 
j ,. monopoly, 61. 
1 Tottams, 86, 89. 92, 98. 
. Trade, 87, 105. 
j Traps, fish, 83. 

Trepang, 85. 
j Turtle, green, It, 11. 
; ,, hawks bill, 13. 
j Twigg, J., 23. 

} Ubaidulla, 16. 
j Upheaval, S, 9. 
I Urukars, 70. 


! v 

! Valiyapani, 1. 
j Varangi, 77, 78, 106, 
! Velliaricha property, 75. 

Vemadu, 78. 
\ Yimegar. 86. 
I Viringilli, 103. 
20. j Vizier, the, 33. 


; War, the Great, 30. 
Whales, 13. 
Winds, 2. 

Wintcrbotham, Sir II. M.. 3, 54. 
Wrecks, 32, 33, 34. 


: Zikkar, 67.